cumin seed

ground
4.9
based on 21 reviews
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shaker jar
2 oz
$6
refill
2 oz
$5
large refill
8 oz
$12
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VARIANTS
ground
whole
When ground, cumin seed yields is a golden light-brown color, with a strong pungent aroma. Unlike the whole seed form of cumin— which should be added early in cooking to allow heat to release flavors—ground cumin seed can be added to dishes at anytime in cooking. The spice will impart an earthy warming character to foods, but should be used sparingly since it can overpower dishes. Cumin has both a bit of sweetness and bitterness in its flavor: it has an underlying nuttiness, and a more menthol quality when ground.

Cumin is often used in vegetarian cooking when a recipe is trying to emulate the flavor of roasted meats. it is also used in chutneys, stews, soups, breads, bbq sauces, and chiles.

Ground cumin is an ingredient in a wide variety of spice blends used in cuisines from all over the world: Indian garam masala and curry mixes, Middle Eastern bahaarat, Ethiopian berbere, Central American achiote, Caribbean sofrito, and Southwestern chili powders.
QUICK INFO
cumin seed , ground
PLANT PART
seed
PROCESSING / FORM
ground
BOTANICAL NAME
Cuminum cyminum
ORIGIN
China, Egypt
BOTANICAL NAME
Cuminum cyminum
AKA
cumin
Roman caraway
spice caraway
Cumin seed is the dried fruit of an annual herbaceous plant in the parsley family, called Cuminum cyminum. The plant is native to southwestern and central Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. Cumin favors subtropical climates with multi-monthed stretches of warm temperatures. Today, the large majority of cumin is grown in India, with areas of Syria and Turkey also producing crops.

Cumin needs diligent weeding, and often also thinning, to maintain the plants' health. Cumin's slender stalk has branches that radiate flowers in dense umbels which can prevent light from getting to plants of lesser height. Cumin plants are tender on the whole, and therefore require harvesting by hand—done after flowering, when the seeds harden and brown in color, and the vegetative parts wither. It is graded according to seed shade, oil content, and flavor.

Cumin has been found in excavations of ancient civilizations where it appears to have had a variety of uses beyond just as a culinary spice—including aiding preservation in mummifications. It is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and later seems to have been regularly consumed by Romans.

Brought to the new world by the Spanish and Portuguese—where it would become a regular addition to the chili powder spice blends that flavor chili con carne and also in achiote mixes—nowadays cumin is found just as readily in South American and Mexican cooking as in Indian, Persian, Middle Eastern, and North African dishes. It can also be found in traditional French breads and Leyden cheese from the Netherlands.
CONFUSIONS

In the family
Cumin is often confused for caraway and the nomenclature for the herb in Slavic countries blurs the distinction between the two. Called "Roman caraway" or "spice caraway" cumin is actually spicier than its similar-looking relation. In addition to being hotter in taste, it is lighter in color, and bigger in size.

In the same boat
Cumin has eight ridges running lengthwise along its boat-shaped body with oil canals between them. It is yellow-brown in color and looks similar not just to caraway but also the other schizocarp herbaceous spices: fennel and anise seed.

 
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REVIEWS (21)