Cumin: language of cumin flowers and plants

Cumin: language of cumin flowers and plants



Carum carvi




Cumin for the ancient Greeks symbolized smallness. In fact, it was said to the various people that "they had divided a grain of cumin". Theocritus advised a very stingy person to have lentils cooked so as not to run the risk of being cut by dividing the cumin.

In addition to this meaning, cumin has also symbolized friendship as Plutarch describes as it combines it with salt which has always had the function of welcoming guests and keeping them. This belief has been lived for a long time, so much so that in the Canavese area (a locality in Piedmont) the young women tried to feed their boyfriends cumin convinced that they would get the same effect on them as it had on the hens, namely to keep them near the house. In the same way when a boyfriend had to leave due to force majeure, for example when he had to do military service, the girlfriend gave him bread filled with cumin or made him drink wine always with cumin.

Cumin - Carum carvi

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Cultivation of caraway

Cumin seeds can be sown in the fall, but often also in March. The soil will require occasional hoeing to keep it clean and assist in proper plant growth. From an autumn sowing, it will be possible to see the shoots the following summer, with ripening in August. When the fruits are ripe, the plant is cut and the confetti are separated by the threshing. They can be dried either on trays in the sun, or through the very gentle heat of a stove, scattering them from time to time. There are several varieties of cumin: English, Dutch and German (obtained from plants grown in Moravia and Prussia) there are other varieties imported from Norway, Finland, Russia and the ports of Morocco.

Nigella sativa: description, history, curiosity and language of flowers


There nigella sativa belongs to the ranuncolacea family and is native to North Africa and the southwestern regions of the Asian continent.

It is an annual plant that reaches a maximum height of 30 cm, is composed of a smooth and thin stem and very jagged alternate leaves. The flowers, which bloom during the summer season, are solitary, composed of 5 or 10 petals usually white or light blue, although there are varieties with pink and violet petals. After flowering, the plant produces "fruits" or brown capsules which inside contain numerous seeds called black cumin.

History and symbology

The first to describe and classify the species was Carl von Linné, more commonly and simply known as Linnaeus, father of the modern biological and scientific classification of living organisms.

Its name derives from the Latin Niger what does it mean black, this name is due to the color of its seeds, which are also very similar to those of cumin, which is why the plant is often known as with the name black cumin.

The history relating to the use of the plant is very extensive and dates back to very ancient times, it was in fact one of the most used species both in Asia and in ancient Egypt.

Black cumin (Nigella sativa seeds)

Inside the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankamon some seeds of nigella were found by archaeologists, furthermore, from the analyzes carried out on some amphorae contained in the tomb it was discovered that at the time they were placed they were full of nigella seed oil. This therefore suggests that the nigella played a very important role among the Egyptians and that it was somehow linked to the concept of "strength and protection" in the afterlife. According to some hypotheses, the seeds and the oil extracted from them should have helped the Pharaoh in the diseases that could afflict him in the afterlife.

Nigella was also thoroughly studied in medieval times by both the Persian mathematician, philosopher and scientist Albiruni(Abu Arrayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni, 973 - 1048) and also a Persian physician, philosopher and mathematician Avicenna (also known by the name Ibn Sinā, 980 - 1037), the latter in particular wrote the text "The canon of medicine” (Qānūn fī l-ṭibb) in which according to his studies the seeds of nigella had the quality of being natural tonic.

Ibn Sinā

Note As for the work in the medical field Avicenna, he was the first not to limit himself to giving a description of the symptoms of diseases, but created a specific classification and above all studied the possible causes. He also tried his hand at experimenting with possible remedies. In practice, his work can be considered an archetype of modern pharmacological science.

Curiosity The common name by which the Arab peoples call the nigella is habbatul barakah, which means blessed seeds. In Anglo-Saxon countries it is popularly called "love in a mist", Love in the fog, or"devil in the bush“, The devil in the bush, due to the conformation of the plant that creates dense and veiled bushes.

In language of flowers and plants the nigella, contrary to what one might think on the basis of its “glorious” history, symbolizes the doubt is the embarrassment, this meaning is probably due to the popular names attributed to it by the Anglo-Saxons.

Use cumin

The use of this spice in cooking is quite varied and can be used in the form of seeds or in dust. Cumin should be used sparingly for its intense, bitter and slightly peppery aroma.

In Italy it is an uncommon spice but generally we can say that it goes well with vegetables, potatoes, cheeses, legumes and meat. Also excellent as an ingredient for marinades based on extra virgin olive oil or soy sauce. To further enhance its flavor, cumin seeds are often roasted in a pan.

Cumin is widely used in the culinary tradition of North Africa, India and the Middle East. For example, in India it is part of numerous spice-based dishes and condiments such as curry and masala. In France it is used to flavor some types of local bread while in Spain and Portugal we can find it in sausages and vegetable dishes.

This spice is mostly suited to savory dishes but in some countries, such as Lebanon, it is added to sweet recipes to give an exotic and spicy taste.

In herbal sector, cumin is widely exploited in the form of essential oil, infusion, decoction and mother tincture. These herbal extracts are used, for example, for digestive, intestinal and respiratory disorders. In particular, the essential oil is widely used as a sedative for the airways, to oxygenate the scalp, as a calming agent for abdominal spasms and as a sedative in cases of anxiety and nervousness. Also excellent for the treatment of headaches and migraines. In this case it will be necessary to put 8 drops of cumin oil in a basin of hot water (200 ml) and 8 drops in a basin filled with 200 ml of cold water. Subsequently, with a cloth you have to alternate hot and cold compresses on the forehead and temples. Finally, it is also used to disinfect environments when placed in the burner (5-6 drops).

Information on cumin herbs

Cumin seeds are usually yellowish-brown in color, oblong in shape, resembling a caraway seed. They have been used since the times of ancient Egypt. Cumin is referred to in the Bible and the ancient Greeks used the spice as a seasoning on the side of the table just like we use a salt shaker. Spanish and Portuguese settlers brought it to the New World. During the Middle Ages, cumin had allegedly kept chickens and lovers away. The brides of that time also wore cumin seeds during their wedding ceremonies as a symbol of their fidelity.

There are several varieties of cumin with the most common being the black and green cumin used in Persian cooking. The cultivation of cumin takes place not only for culinary purposes, but it is also grown for use in bird seeds. As a result, cumin plants sprout in areas of the world not known to the plant.

Preservation of the cumin crop

After harvesting the cumin seeds, they need to be stored. They should be dry enough after a couple of weeks in the paper bags or you can place the umbrellas on a dehydrator until the pods crack.

After separating the straw from the seeds, they can be bottled, placed in a Ziploc plastic bag or placed in an airtight vacuum bag. The key is to avoid air, light and heat to the seeds. These extremes can reduce the oils and, therefore, the flavor of the seeds.

With careful preparation, that sweet, almost licorice flavor will remain for up to a year.

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