Although most often associated with rye bread, caraway is a versatile spice that's been used for thousands of years in many world cuisines.
Its nutty, delicate anise flavor shows up in Hungarian goulash, German sauerkraut, Scandinavian bread, Tunisian harissa (a paste) and garam masala, an Indian spice mix.
Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans favored caraway not only for cooking but for medicinal purposes as well. In the Middle Ages, the spice was added to breads, cakes and baked fruit to aid digestion.
The aromatic spice comes from an herb plant in the parsley family. The plant has a thick root like a parsnip, leaves that resemble those of carrots, delicate clusters of small flowers and, of course, the brown seeds.
Caraway should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for not more than 6 months. The seed can become bitter during long cooking, so add it to soups or stews 15 minutes before taking the pot off the stove.
Sprinkle a Little Caraway into Your Menu
Try some of these reader recipes featuring caraway.
Brooke Staley of Mary Esther, Florida likes to serve these scrumptious Caraway Scones (pictured above) alongside corned beef hash. They make a great addition to a soup and salad luncheon, too.
Paprika, cayenne pepper and caraway spice up tender chunks of beef, potatoes and carrots in Beef Goulash Soup (pictured above). This tantalizing tomato-based soup comes from field editor Sharon Wilson Bickett of Chester, South Carolina. She garnishes each bowl with a dollop of sour cream.
If you're a sauerkraut lover, you'll savor this sweet-and-tangy Caraway Sauerkraut Bake that features stewed tomatoes and bacon. "We enjoy this dish served with ribs, potatoes and corn bread," says Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri.
For more recipes featuring caraway, visit the Taste of Home Recipe Finder.