Monthly Archives: December 2013

CARAWAY (Carum carvi)

Caraway

Caraway

Caraway, a member of the carrot family, is a self-seeding annual, sometimes growing as a biennial, which likes a sunny location and, unlike most herbs, well-watered soil. Seeds should be sown in shallow drills as early as possible and, in milder climates, in the fall. Thin the seedlings and keep the bed weeded. Caraway does not need fertilizer. For some reason the spice does not like to grow near fennel, but it makes a good companion for peas and will help keep the weeds down under your pea rows. When the seeds are brown (mid to late summer), check their ripeness with a gentle tug. If ready, cut off the whole plant and turn it upside down in a paper bag. When dry, the seeds will fall to the bottom of the bag when it is rolled between your hands.

There is evidence of caraway’s use dating back over 5,000 years, making it one of the oldest known spices. Medicinally, caraway is a carminative, soothing the digestive tract, relieving colic, cramps, bloating and flatulence. As English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper wrote in The English Physitian (1652), caraway is “conducive to all the cold griefs of the head and stomach … and has a moderate quality whereby it breaketh wind, and provoketh urine.”  Caraway is reputed to increase breast milk production and its antispasmodic action will also relieve menstrual pain. The spice is frequently used in cough syrups, especially for children, and will successfully combine with white horehound in this role.

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Anise (Pimpinella Anisum): Stomach Settler, Restorer Of Lost Youth

Anise

Anise

References to anise date back to the sixth century BC when Pythagoras mistakenly believed that simply holding the seeds in the hand could prevent epileptic seizures. The Romans cultivated anise for its fragrance, flavour and medicinal properties. A popular Roman spice cake included anise, bay leaves and cumin. It was served after heavy meals, especially wedding feasts, and performed the dual roles of both a dessert and a digestive aid. Anise today is still widely used for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal qualities.

The spice has traditionally been used in protection and meditation incenses. It is supposed to ward off evil and sleeping on a pillow containing aniseeds will prevent nightmares. A sprig of anise hung on the bedpost will reputedly revive departed youth.

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