Online Encyclopedia

CARAWAY

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 303 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CARAWAY, the fruit, or so-called seed, of Carum Carui, an umbelliferous plant growing throughout the northern and central parts of Europe and Asia, and naturalized in waste places in England. The plant has finely-cut leaves and compound umbels of small white flowers. The fruits are laterally compressed and ovate, the mericarps (the two portions into which the ripe fruit splits) being subcylindrical, slightly arched, and marked with five distinct pale ridges. Caraways evolve a pleasant aromatic odour when bruised, and they have an agreeable spicy taste. They yield from 3 to 6 % of a volatile oil, the chief constituent of which is cymene aldehyde. Cymene itself is present, having the formula CH3C6H4CH(CH3)2; also carvone C1oH140, and limonene, a terpene. The dose of the oil is +-3 minims. The plant is cultivated in north and central Europe, and Morocco, as well.. as in the south of England, the produce of more northerly latitudes being richer in essential oil than that grown in southern regions. The essential oil is largely obtained by distillation for use in medicine as an aromatic stimulant and carminative, and as a flavouring material in cookery and in liqueurs for drinking. Caraways are, however, more extensively consumed entire in certain kinds of cheese, cakes and bread, and they form the basis of a popular article of confectionery known as caraway comfits.
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