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Information @ a Glance

General
  • Caraway, Carum carvi L., is a slender annual or biennial herb native to Asia Minor and Europe and naturalized in North America. The plant, reaching a height of approximately one meter, has long been prized as a flavoring agent or condiment. Caraway seeds are actually the mericarps of ripe fruit borne in compound umbels.
  • Caraway had been used since the ancient times to calm the digestive tract and expel gas. Caraway seeds have been found in prehistoric food remains from 3500 B.C. The ancient Greek physician Dioscorides mentioned the seeds to aid digestion, and herbals down through the ages have recommended them for indigestion, gas, and infant colic.

Production & Cultivation

  • Caraway are grown not so much for their medicinal herbal properties as they are for their culinary uses in flavoring in dishes, candies and liqueurs. It has bright green leaves similar to a carrot top and 18 to 30 inch stems that appear rather weedy looking. Sow caraway seeds in the fall and be patient, because they are slow to germinate.
  • The caraway grown commercially on the prairies for field production is a biennial with fine-cut carrot-like leaves and tiny white flowers blossoming in June. It tends to handle frost well. The fruit, which is mistakenly called seed, is slightly curved (banana shaped) with distinct pale ridges. The fruit has a distinct odor when crushed

Technology & Applications

  • Currently, SFE represents a dynamically evolving separation technique for the determination of essential oils. It is an efficient method for isolation of volatile compounds from complex natural matrices, comparable with older field-proven methods, such as steam distillation, liquid/liquid (solvent) extraction or hydrodistillation.
  • The primary active constituent in caraway is volatile oil (4-6% on average), which itself is made up of carvone and limonene. The fruit of the caraway plant contains fixed oil along with carbohydrate and protein. Caraway is a carminative. Carminatives are herbs that help to ameliorate gastrointestinal pain, and associated gas pain. The volatile oil of caraway may also be a useful remedy for bowel spasms.

Market

  • The market for caraway oil is so ill defined in Australia, it is essential that you cost everything carefully and ensure you have a contract before embarking on this enterprise. Studies on caraway have focussed on the annual variety, which matures very late and has an essential oil content about two-thirds that of the biennial variety.
  • Canadian caraway seed production is concentrated in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Caraway seed has a higher yield potential in highly fertile soil with adequate moisture; yield is severely reduced by drought conditions. Marketing of caraway seed is very difficult as there are no marketing boards, quotas, or stabilization programs and markets in Canada are limited.

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