Caraway, Carum carvi
Caraway is a common wild species throughout Finland, except in northernmost Lapland. Plenty of caraway is also cultivated in Finland, as the country is one of the world’s leading exporters of it.
The only edible part of the caraway plant is the seeds, the taste of which depends on the amount of aromatic oil they contain. The many hours of sunlight in Finland during the summer are an advantage for the development of high-quality and aromatic caraway seeds.
Something to try
To make a tasty cabbage dish seasoned with caraway seeds, begin by roasting a tablespoon of the seeds in a hot pan for about a minute. Add 50 g of butter, and let them fry for a short while. Add about 800 g of sliced white or red cabbage to the pot, and season with salt, pepper and grated lemon rind. Allow to cook for a few minutes, until the cabbage begins to soften. Add a few tablespoons of water, and let the mixture boil until the cabbage is soft and all the water has evaporated. Finally, add lemon juice to taste. The cabbage can be served as an accompaniment to grilled meat, for example.
Gathering the plants
Caraway grows wild throughout most of Finland in fields that receive plenty of sunlight, and in yards and pastures and on grassy embankments. The seeds are suitable for collecting from late July to early August.
Other interesting facts
The oil from caraway seeds mainly contains two chemical compounds, S-carnone and S-limonene. Limonine is widely used in the cosmetics industry, for example to give soaps and other washing agents a lemon and orange fragrance.
Caraway is similar to wild chervil (cow parsley) and to yarrow (milfoil) – both of which are edible. However, it also closely resembles fool’s parsley (fool’s cicely) and hemlock, both of which are poisonous. For this reason, don’t gather or use the plant unless you are certain that it’s caraway.