The use of Caraway in the kitchen and food industry

The Use in the Kitchen

In Middle Europe caraway is a common spice in the kitchen but not everybody likes it. The use is limited to certain dishes and to certain regions ().

Some examples are given below but the list must not necessarily be complete:

  • salad: cabbage, Chinese cabbage
  • vegetables (side dish): cabbage, potatoes, red cabbage, Savoy cabbage, sauerkraut
  • meat: pork (joint of pork), beef (pörkelt, goulash)
  • poultry: goose
  • cheese: fondue, gratin’s, raclette

The reason why caraway is often used together with different species of cabbage can probably be seen in the anti-flatulent effect of caraway.

The Use in Seasonings

Most foods are not only seasoned with one spice but with a number of different tastes. The aroma industry is offering to the food industry a complete programme of different tastes produced of mixtures of spices, essential oils, oleoresins and all kinds off additives. The so called seasonings are compounds containing one or more spices or spice extracts, which, when added to the food, either during its manufacture or in its preparation, before it is served, enhance the natural flavour of the food and thereby increase its acceptance by the consumer. The following overlook is taken from Gerhardt ().

Bread seasonings: During the last years the seasoning of bread has increased considerably using anise, coriander, onion etc. and caraway. The amount added is about 10g/kg. Higher amounts are linked with an unpleasant spice taste.

Chilli con carne: beside chillies, garlic, oregano, coriander also caraway can be found in this type of seasonings.

Curry: is a mixture of many different spices. Among others also caraway was found in Middle European curry mixtures.

Pickled vegetables mixtures: Especially for red cabbage-salad and sauerkraut-salad caraway is used beside many other spices.

Vegetable seasoning mixtures: cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, creamed potatoes

Grill seasonings: caraway additional to chillies, paprika, garlic etc.

Milk products: cheese and curd cheese.

Mustard: consists mainly of mustard meal, vinegar, salt, sugar but also from many spices, among them caraway.

Salad seasonings: the taste of the salad should be maintained or rather be enhanced by spices. In mixtures for meat, vegetable-, cheese-, potato-, and cabbage salads.

Soup seasonings: besides goulash- and potato soup caraway is not often used.

Sausage seasonings: for sausages many different spices are used. Caraway only in brawn (aspic). The amount added is about 5–6g/kg sausage mass.

In meat-, fish-, poultry-, and gamemeat-seasoning-mixtures caraway is normally not used. In the anglosaxonian countries caraway is not a common ingredient in spice and seasoning preparations ().

The Use in Bakery Products

Caraway is not only mixed into white and ryebread but is also sprinkled on the dough before baking. Sometimes caraway fruits and essential oil is mixed together into the dough in order to get the aroma better spread out. The essential oil enhances the taste impression ().

The Use of Caraway in Alcoholic Beverages

The flavouring of different types of spirits and liquors has a long tradition. Caraway flavoured spirits are coming mainly from Denmark and other Scandinavian countries. Those products described as akvavit or aquavit are flavoured using neutral alcohol distillates of caraway and/or dill. Other flavourings, may be used, but the flavour of the drinks must be attributable to the distillates of caraway, aniseed or dill. Caraway is only added before distillation (). The use of essential oil is prohibited (). Some well known alcoholic beverages which are on the market are listed in Table Some of the known alcoholic beverages using caraway.

In American Gin the flavour additives always include juniper berries and usually cardamom as well as other botanicals such as caraway seeds and others ().

Table Some of the known alcoholic beverages using caraway

AkvavitScandinaviaCaraway with aniseed and fennel 40% ale.
MashRussiaSweet ktimmel with bitter almonds and aniseed
ClocDenmarkKummel 31% alcohol, colourless
Kii mmclNetherlandsCaraway with some anise and cumin min 5% alcohol, one of the oldest liqueurs with digestive properties


Selections from the book: “Caraway. The Genus Carum”. Edited by Éva Németh. Series: “Medicinal and Aromatic Plants — Industrial Profiles”. 1998.