Caraway (Carum carvi L.) of the Apiaceae family, appears to have its origin in Asia
Minor. The evidence of caraway was found in Middle Eastern Asia about 5000 years
ago. The plant was well known to the ancient Egyptians and was introduced about
1000 years ago from northern Africa into Europe (Rubatzky et al., 1999). Caraway
seeds have been mainly used as a condiment for flavouring food preparations into
Europe and the Middle East from ancient times. It is known to be cultivated in the
Netherlands, Holland, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Denmark, Germany and Norway.
The other producing countries are Romania, Bulgaria, Morocco, the USA, Syria,
Turkey and India. The major commercial sources of caraway in the world are the
Netherlands and Germany, where it is extensively cultivated.
There are about 25 species of Carum known to occur and only Carum carvi L. has
an economic importance, being used and cultivated in several regions. It is commonly
called caraway and is popular by different names in different countries. It is called
carvi in French and Italian, kummel in German, alcaravea in Spanish, karvy in
Dutch, kminek in Polish, komeny in Hungarian, siah zeera in India. All European
countries have their own, however, to some extent similar names for this species and
these names might be traced back to the Arabian ‘karauya’ from the XII century
(Rosengarten, 1969). It is also called sushva, krishna jiraka or black cumin in India.
The caraway (Carum carvi L.) is usually confused with black caraway (Carum
bulbocastanum Koch, Bunicum persicum Boiss) and Nigella (Nigella sativa L.)
because of the common vernacular names, but they are botanically different from
In a classification of plant organs used as spice, the caraway has been categorized as
a seed spice because seeds (botanically fruits) are used raw, powdered or in the form
of essential oil or oleoresins. As per the taxonomic classification, the caraway belongs
to the order Apiales, family Apiaceae, genus Carum and species carvi. The other
S. K. Malhotra, National Research Centre on Seed Spices, India
synonyms of Carum carvi L. mentioned in various literatures are Carum decussatum
Gillib, Carum aromaticum Salisb. Carum officinale S.F. Gray, Apium carvi Crantz,
Seseli carvi Lam, Seseli carum Scop. Ligusticum carvi Roth, Sium carvi Bernh,
Bunicum carvi Bieb, Foeniculum carvi Limk, Pimpinella carvi Jessen and Selinum
carvi E.H.L. As per the conventional classification of spices, out of five types, viz.,
hot spices, mild spices, aromatic spices, herbs and aromatic vegetables, caraway is
classified as a mild spice and on the basis of plant organs used, it is known as seed
because the dried fruits are mostly used as spices.
The caraway plant is an erect, herbaceous, biennial herb with a thick tuberous rootstock.
The plant height varies from 0.5 to 1.0 m. The stem is cylindrical, robust, divertically
branched, aromatic, straight and leafy. The leaves are pinnately compound and ultimately
segments of lower leaves are lanceolate. Flowers are minute, borne in terminally or
axillary compound umbels producing clusters of white flowers. The flowers have
bracts 1-3, small, linear or none; calyx teeth 5, small or none; petals 5, notched, often
enlarged and erect. Carpels are rounded and narrowed upwards. Fruits are brown,
cremocarp, 3–6 mm long, ovoid or oblong, glabrous and laterally flattened. Seeds are
dorsally flattened smooth or slightly grooved on the inner surface. The fruit when
ripe splits into narrow, elongated carpels 4 to 6.5 mm long, curved, pointed at the
ends with five longitudinal ridges on the surface. The seeds have a warm, sweet,
slightly sharp taste and flavour (Malhotra, 2004). The sematic chromosome numbers
15.1.3 Production and international trade
Caraway is grown significantly on a large scale in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland,
Ukraine, Hungary, and Romania. The Netherlands has an outstanding position in the
world for caraway production. Some further countries Sweden, Norway, Spain and
Austria, were mentioned as caraway producers, (Heeger, 1956), however, production
seems not to be a determining factor today in the world market from these countries.
From the last few decades, the production of caraway has shifted to new regions, such
as Canada, USA, Finland, Syria and Morocco. The Carum carvi plant as natural flora
is prevalent in North and Central Europe, England, East and Central France, South
Spain, North Italy, Balkan Peninsula, Central Asia (Nemeth, 1998). It has spread as a
result of human activity also in Holland, North Africa, North America and New Zealand.
The principal commercial source of caraway seed is the Netherlands. The seed is
also cultivated in Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Britain, India, Morocco, Newfoundland,
Poland, Romania, Russia, Syria and the USA (Weiss, 2002). About 3500 metric
tonnes of caraway seed and value added products are imported annually into the USA
and about 80% of this tonnage arrives from the Netherlands, the remainder coming
from Poland and Denmark. Switzerland and Austria get about 500 tonnes of caraway,
70% from the Netherlands and the remainder from Poland. The Netherlands, Poland
and Germany are the major exporters in the world market and export caraway seed
to the USA, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. In India, caraway grows wild in the
North Himalayan region and is cultivated as a winter crop in the plains and a summer
crop in Kashmir, Kumaon, Garhwal and Chamba at attitudes of 2740 to 3660 m
above mean sea level.
272 Handbook of herbs and spices
Average annual world production of caraway oil ranges from 30–40 t, with a total
value of more than $1 million. Holland is one of the major producers and exporters
of caraway essential oil. For many years Holland has been the world’s principal
supplier of caraway seed and oil, but now the Netherlands has attained supreme
position in the global market. The international price of oil varies from 2000 Rupees
(Rs) to Rs. 2500 per kg so it is a minor item in the export and import of oil in India.
Approximately 200 kg of caraway oil, worth Rs. 0.01–0.02 million and caraway seed
200 tonnes, worth Rs.3.5 million are imported annually from India (Shiva et al.,
2002). Around 30 t of essential oil of caraway is traded yearly in the world, the fifth
largest amount amongst Apiaceace species. The world production of seeds may be
assumed reach to around 15 thousand tonnes. Production, however, is rather variable
and fluctuates from year to year both in quantities and in prices.
Production of caraway seed is significant in northern Europe, especially the
Netherlands, and in Canada, the USA, Scandinavia, Russia and Germany. The tuberous
roots of caraway are edible and somewhat popular especially among the inhabitants
of higher hills in India and China, and further extending to the Caucasus, Persia,
Tibet and Siberia. The major producers of winter-type caraway are the Netherlands,
Poland, Hungary and Russia; the spring type is produced mainly by Syria, Morocco,
Egypt and Western India.
Caraway crop requires a dry temperate climate and thrives well in tilled soils, rich in
humus at an elevation of 3000–4000 m. Caraway is basically a biennial but usually
treated as an annual from crop production techniques. It grows as an annual at lower
altitudes and as a biennial in higher altitudes up to 4000 m above sea level. It prefers
a lot of sunshine and low temperatures (16/20 °C) for flowering and seed setting of
biennial types (winter types), whereas annual types of caraway require more heat for
seed production (Svab, 1992). High fruit yield of caraway requires plenty of sunshine
especially in the first year of growth and also during the flowering stage. Low light
levels will delay and decrease the fruit production (Bouwmeester et al., 1995). The
biennial types require a period of about eight weeks of temperature below 10 °C to
induce flowering, whereas annual types attain flowering during long days (10 hours
or more), the higher the temperature, the quicker flowering develops. Annual caraway
thrives in the cool short days of the Eastern Mediterranean winter and in the Indian
plains (Arganosa et al., 1998). A cold temperature (8/5 °C, day/night) for seven
weeks was best for achieving 100% flowering in biennial type caraway plants in
Hungary (Nemeth et al., 1998). Commercial crops of caraway are usually located in
moderate to high rainfall areas of the temperate region up to 1500 mm annually.
Caraway can withstand frost after sowing in autumn. In general, light intensity is
more important than day length and long periods of cloudy weather or shading from
other crops at flowering substantially reduces seed yield (Putievsky, 1983). In warmer
regions, caraway is grown at higher elevations i.e. near 3000 m in Kashmir, India.
Caraway grows in a variety of soils but yields best on deep and warm soils rich in
humus and nutrients. Commercial caraway crops are usually grown on free-draining
clays or heavy loams soils provided moisture is adequate. The growers in northern
Netherlands, the known high-productivity zone, harvest a high yield and quality of
caraway under such soil conditions. Prolonged water-logged conditions may cause
damage to the crop. Caraway grows well only on neutral or slightly alkaline soils, a
soil reaction of pH 6.5–7.5 is preferred, and above or below this, yield is progressively
reduced, although there may be no major difference in vegetative growth (Chotin and
Szulgina, 1963). Below pH 6.0, caraway plants generally make poor growth and
Liming can adjust soil acidity, but heavy application may induce manganese and
born deficiencies thus acid or high alkaline soils should be avoided for the cultivation
of caraway. Dry sandy and arid soils are not suitable for the cultivation of caraway.
In the Netherlands, the highest yield of carvone (>70 kg/ha) was obtained on sandy
loam, whereas on sandy soils the yield was about 40 kg/ha (Toxopeus and Lubberts,
1994). In India, the sandy loam and well drained soils are best for caraway cultivation
and can be grown in fruit orchards in between the rows of the plants.
Caraway is propagated through seeds and is usually sown at a row distance of 30–40
cm, during March–April in temperate areas and October–November in subtropical
areas in India and the Mediterranean region. Biennial caraway can either be sown in
late spring-early summer in areas with a relatively mild winter or in autumn where
winters are more rigorous. In areas where there are very cold winters, caraway should
be sown in late July to ensure vernalization occurs. In the Netherlands it is frequently
sown in March–April, mostly the biennial type, but the annual cultivars should be
sown as early as possible in spring when the ground has warmed after winter. A soil
temperature between 10 and 15 °C gave the highest germination percentage in Israel
and germination time was halved when seeds were leached with water and dried
before sowing. Annual caraway can be sown under cover early in the year and grown
mostly by direct seeding in the field. This produces an early herb crop or a high seed
yield, but is profitable only near a high-value urban market or for domestic use.
About 6–8 kg good-quality seed is required for sowing in one hectare and significantly
advanced and more uniform emergence can be obtained as a result of seed stratification
at 0 °C for 20–25 days and also by warming up the seeds just before sowing (Chotin
and Szulgina, 1963). A sufficient water supply for maintaining optimum soil moisture
during germination is required for getting maximum germination level and uniform
emergence of seedlings. In the moderate climate of Central Europe, two cultivation
methods are used, mixed or pure crop. Mixed cultivation with a cover crop is usually
preferred by the small farm holdings located under favourable soil and climatic
conditions. The pure sowing can be delayed to the end of May and even to August
(Ruminska,1981), whereas in mixed cultivation, possibly the earliest sowing (March,
April) is just obligatory (Weglarz, 1998).
Seed sowing rate depends both on cultivation method and soil type, ranging from
6–8 kg to 8–10 kg per ha for mixed and pure crops, respectively. Sowing is performed
in rows at a 35–50 cm spacing and sowing depth increase from 1.5 cm on heavy soils
to 2–4 cm on relatively higher soils, exposed to fast drying of the top layer. The
optimum stand density for caraway as worked out by Wander (1997) is 75–100
plants/m2 for getting higher seed yield and quality. In Saskatoon, western Canada,
274 Handbook of herbs and spices
among the three cultivars tested, Karzo produced the highest seed yield (1648 kg/ha)
and had the highest essential oil content (3.4%) and for best yields, Karzo required
high sowing rates (about three times the current sowing rate used with other cultivars),
a sowing depth of 2.5–4 cm, and sowing no later than 19 May, to ensure full seed
maturity (Arganosa, et al., 1998). The different sowing dates (between 6 April and 21
June) and seed rates (5, 10 or 15 kg/ha) using C. carvi (cv. Sylvia) were standardized
by Dragland and Aslaksen (1996) for its successful cultivation in various agro-
climatic localities in Norway.
Nutrient intake by caraway plants is intensive and the pure crops require about 10–
15 t/ha farmyard manure and the best fore crops for caraway are considered root and
vegetable plants previously supplied with a full rate of farmyard manure (20–40 t/
ha). Plants ploughed in for green manure could also be recommended. According to
Schroder (1964), 85 kg N, 39 kg P2O5 and 94 kg K2O per ha, yields 1.2 and 4.2
tonnes of fruits and straw, respectively. In Poland, caraway crop is usually provided
with 60–80 kg N, 70–80 kg P2O5, 100–120 kg K2O and 20–30 kg MgO, applied both
in the first and second growing season (Ruminska, 1990). Full rates of P, K compounds
together with half amount of N-fertilizers are applied prior to sowing in late autumn
or early spring. The other half of nitrogen is provided after caraway emergence.
However, the main sources of nutrients as mentioned above are mineral fertilizers,
supplied in both years of cultivation in the biennial type.
Annual caraway responds very positively to N and P for increasing plant height,
number of branches, seed weight and seed yield (Munshi et al., 1990) and in Europe
it was found that N is needed mainly during leaf development and K during flower
stalk growth while the P and Ca uptake (as found in plant parts) was high during seed
ripening (Lihan and Jezikova, 1991). The highest seed production has been obtained
when a high level of N is applied before sowing or 50% before sowing and 50% of
the total amount at mid-winter. In Israel, maximum seed yield has been obtained at
50 kg of N/1000 m2 supplied as ammonium sulphate (Putievsky and Sanderovich,
1985). The highest seed yield and carvone yield were achieved with 30–60 kg N/ha
under the Netherlands growing conditions (Wander, 1997).
15.2.5 Maintenance and care
The important agricultural practices for caraway production after sowing are loosening
of soil, weed control, irrigation and plant protection. It is necessary to decrease the
weed population to the minimum, not only to reduce competition with the crop, but
also to maintain quality at harvest, because many weeds are umbelliferous and their
seeds are difficult to separate from caraway fruits and ultimately reduces its value.
Since the crop growth during the initial period of emergence is slow, crop should be
kept free of weeds during the first two months by practising 2–3 weeding and hoeing
for annual types (Malhotra, 2005). For biennial crops, one weeding and hoeing
would be required in the first year when the crop has started sprouting and another
during spring of the next year after over wintering in April. This practice helps in
removal of weeds and loosening of soil for aeration.
In Russia, herbicides like prometryne and gasgard are used against dicot weeds. In
pure crops of caraway, the use of linuron, prometryne and metobromuron have proved
effective for chemical weed control (Pruszynski, 1995). Weed control is a very important
factor mainly during the early developing stages before the plants cover the field at
early spring (March). The growing season of biennial caraway is much longer, therefore
a wide range of weed control is needed for a longer time. The two most common
herbicides used for weed control are afalon (linuron) and prometryne, mainly used
after sowing before emergence (Putievsky, 1978), but can also be used before sowing
(Pank et al., 1984).
It is important to maintain adequate soil moisture to get high seed yield. Depending
upon the soil type and climate, the crop requires three to four irrigations. In biennial
types, a first irrigation should be given when bolting starts and is followed by irrigation
at flowering and seed formation, the most important stages for realizing a higher seed
yield. In semi-arid regions where the annual caraway grows, two critical stages when
irrigation is necessary are during the early period of growth from germination to
establishment and seed formation. In Egypt, when rainfall is not sufficient, the farmers
make use of the flooding system to irrigate the crop, while in Israel a sprinkler
irrigation system is used for this purpose.
The caraway crop is affected by several diseases and insect pests but insects pose
comparatively less of a problem than do the diseases. The aphid (Hyadaphis corianderi)
is frequently recorded in caraway from the Middle East to India and is damaging in
growing seasons. The most commonly recorded diseases are caused by Fusarium
spp., Verticillium spp., Sclerotinia spp., especially S. sclerotiorum, which has a very
wide host and geographical range and Phomopsis spp., especially Phomopsis diachenii
and Ramularia spp. in Europe. A major disease of spring caraway in the Netherlands
is the soil-borne Sclerotinia stem rot, which can be effectively controlled by following
crop rotation. The Anthracnose due to Mycocentrospora acerina occurs widely in
Europe. Suitable disease management as recommended for each disease and pests in
various countries can be followed accordingly.
15.2.6 Harvesting and yield
The fruits of caraway, being highly susceptible to shattering, necessitate harvesting
of crop at the appropriate time. In Europe, caraway is harvested in the period from
late June to mid-July for biennial types. Depending on region and cultivar, biennial
types are harvested from July to September. The annual crop is ready for harvest in
March–April after 4–5 months. However, in temperate areas the plant flowers only
after over-wintering and thus crop is harvested in July after a crop duration of about
15 months. The crop is harvested when the oldest seeds start turning brown. Harvesting
is done by sickle on small farms or by mowing machine, as is done on large farms in
Holland. Caraway yield widely fluctuates from 1–3 t/ha for biennial types and 0.7–
1 t/ha from annual type. In mixed cultivation with cover crops, the yields obtained
may be 15–30% lower (Muller, 1990). In field tests carried out over several years in
Vienna, Austria, by Bailer et al., (2001) on four annual and seven biennial caraway
varieties, yielded 900 kg/ha in biennial caraway, and 1250 kg/ha in annual caraway.
The yield of caraway fruits grown in experimental fields ranged from 984–2673 kg
ha-1, depending on fertilizer content, cultivation area and cultivar under Lithuanian
agro-climatic conditions (Venskutonis et al., 1999).
15.2.7 Post-harvest handling
The seed crop of caraway is collected after harvest and should be left in swaths or
276 Handbook of herbs and spices
sheaves for a period of 7–10 days before they are threshed. This short period from
cutting to threshing is very essential, since then the fruits become finally formed and
coloured. Warm weather favours this process, however, too intensive insolation is
unwanted, when threshers are also used. However, transport of dry plants from the
field usually increases yield losses (Hecht et al., 1992). In a study by Wander (1997)
thresher drum speed had exhibited no adverse effect on seed or carvone yield while
threshing caraway. After threshing and mechanical cleaning, the fruits should be re-
dried down to 10–12% moisture content. Then for some time, the fruits should be
kept loose in a thin layer, being frequently mixed, within a dry and aerated storeroom
to finally establish their moisture content. Such prepared raw material is packed into
sacks and if inadequately stored, can go musty and mouldy, thus becoming useless as
raw material (Weglarz, 1998). Spices should be stored on a dry, cool and dark place
in order to keep the aroma as long as possible. The shade-dried seed contains more
oil content than the sun-dried seed. The seed can be cleaned easily with a screening
mill followed by a gravity separator. The fresh seed should be taken to the oil
extraction unit for more recovery of essential oil content (Malhotra, 2006a,b).
There are annual and biennial forms of Carum carvi, existing with slight uncertain
differences in morphological and anatomical characteristics between these two
morphotypes of caraway (Hornok, 1986). Concerning essential oil content, there is a
clear distinction between these two with about 3% for annual and 4% for biennial
caraway (Bouwmeester et al., 1995)
Different cultivars have been recommended for cultivation in different provinces.
The popular biennial type landraces and varieties of caraway are Noord-Hollandsche,
Mansholts and Volhouden. In 1972, a non-shattering variety ‘Bleija’ was developed
through Volhouden and Mansholts. Two spring type annual caraway varieties ‘Karzo’
and ‘Springcar’, were both registered in the years 1993 and 1995, respectively. In the
Mediterranean region, varieties mostly originated from local wild populations and
they are known as ‘Balady’ in Arabic. In order to get the highest seed, essential oil
and carvone yields, the identified varieties/landraces popular in a province should be
used for cultivation. There is one report of transgenic caraway from the Netherland
(Krens, et al., 1997). A population of annual caraway was evaluated over nine years
for quality parameters in comparison to biennial caraway in the Central German area.
Annual caraway has the potential to reach yield and quality levels of biennial varieties.
Plant height, 1000-seed weight, carvone content and taste were satisfactory, but
earliness, homogeneity, yields, contents of essential oils and colour need improvement.
Also, the causes of low seed germination (40%) have to be investigated (Pank and
Clear agro-botanical differences were observed between wild and cultivated
populations. Cultivated populations were characterized by a longer growing period,
differences in rosette growth habit, larger and heavier seeds, and a higher and more
constant seed germination capacity. The essential oil content of all seeds was
variable (2.3–7.6%); the average oil contents of wild and cultivated forms were 5.0
and 5.1%, respectively. The highest oil contents were found in a cultivated Swiss and
a wild Finnish population (7.6 and 7.5%, respectively). The average oil content of
wild Finnish populations was significantly higher (5.3%) than that of cultivated
Finnish forms (4.8%). The main constituents of most of essential oil
samples were carvone (40–60%) and limonene (38–54%). High carvone contents
were observed in a Norwegian and an Icelandic population. The carvone and limonene
ratio of wild populations from northern parts of Finland was higher than that from
Populations from higher elevations in the Alps also had high carvone:limonene
ratios (Galambosi and Peura, 1996). The caraway selections A.Car-01-91 and A.Car-
01-94 both annual types are being acclimatized to semi-arid conditions in India for
high yield and essential oil content (Malhotra, 2005). The caraway, Bi-An, a new
biennial cultivar which flowers in the first year of growth, was selected from commercial
biennial varieties of caraway, and was grown in the field at Newe Ya’ar, Israel. The
composition of the essential oil, hydro-distilled from fruits of the new cultivar, was
analyzed. The main constituents of the essential oil were limonene (50.16%) and d-
carvone (46.74%) (Putievsky et al., 1994).
15.2.9 Organic farming
In recent years, organic agriculture has gained importance and many farmers are
showing interest in organic farming. The demand for organic caraway is steadily
increasing, because many consumers have a preference for the organic product of this
group of spices. The importance of organic farming can be inferred from the fact that
some European countries are supporting organic agriculture by giving subsidies for
conversion. Demand for organic spices varies considerably from country to country
and the kind of spices in a particular country. The European countries, the USA,
Canada and Japan are by far the largest markets and looking far organic spices from
the high-productivity areas in the world. The newly emerging markets for organic
spices are Australia, New Zealand and some other European countries.
No reliable published data is available for caraway organic seed production and
export but as a whole it is not more than 20 tonnes as assessed from important buyers.
The major organic caraway-producing countries are the Netherlands, Germany and
Norway. Keeping in mind the growing demand for organic spices in the global
market, it is necessary to give a boost to the organic farming of spices by tackling a
few issues related to the costly and cumbersome land certification system and availability
of the technical knowhow especially on production, processing, storage and market
information. The future demand for organic spices appears to be bright. The general
and specific guidelines for organic production of seed spices including caraway have
been detailed by Malhotra and Vashishtha, (2004).
15.3 Chemical structure
Chemical composition varies with variety region, stage of harvest and method of
distillate. The ground seed of caraway yields up to 5–7.5% volatile oil, consisting
primarily of 60% δ-carvone and 15% fixed oil, of which oleic, linoleic, petroselinic,
and palmitic are the major fatty acids. Caraway grown in the northern latitudes yields
higher quantities of volatile oil than that cultivated in the warmer climates. The
essential oil content varies with stage of harvest, variety of caraway and geographical
region and has been reported by various workers ranging from 0.99% to 8.1% (El
Wakeil et al., 1986; Atal and Sood, 1967). The chief constituents of essential oil of
caraway range from 47–81.17%, carvone and 9.4–48.7%, limonene to which chiefly
278 Handbook of herbs and spices
the odour and flavour are attributed. The essential oil concentration of seeds was in
the range 2.9–5.1% (v/w). The carvone and limonene contents of the essential oils
were in the range 59–77% and 26–41%, respectively from C. carvi (cv. Sylvia) in
Norway (Dragland and Aslaksen,1996).
The chemical constituents of caraway can be classified as primary and secondary
metabolites. The first group comprises substances playing a vital role and necessary
in normal cell life processes, the second is usually of broader interest due to the
presence of bioactive substances contributing to flavour, fragrance and medicinal
value. Our major concern is with secondary metabolites as they yield bioactive
substances specific to a crop species. Thus, the growing interest nowadays is for
secondary metabolites, viz., terpenes, flavonoids, coumarins and phenolic constituents
of Carum carvi due to their antioxidative properties. The main primary metabolites
identified and characterized for caraway samples by various workers are saccharides
(monosaccharides – glucose, fructose, disaccharides-sucrose; trisaccharides –
umbelliferore (Hopf and Kandler 1976), lipids (triglycerides, 66%; free fatty acids,
5.1%, steroids, 0.4%, hydrocarbons, 0.2%; chlorophyll, 0.2%; waxes,0.1%; free alcohol
0.1% (Stepanenko, et al.,1980), amino acids such as alanine, phexylalanine, methionine,
glutamic acid, serine and valine (Perseca et al., 1981), endogenous abscisic acid
(ABA) 120 µg/kg of d.wt (Mendez, 1978) and other minor miscellaneous constituents,
caraway choline, 0.03–0.15% (Matsuzawa and Kawa, 1996). A linear relationship
between ABA content and dormancy degree in caraway seed has been noticed (Hradlik
and Fiserova, 1980). The constituents carvacrol, cumin alcohol and cumin aldehyde
found in volatile parts of caraway essential oil are phenolic substances.
Research on the constituents responsible for the antioxidant properties of Carum
has led, among others, to carvacrol (Lagouri and Boskau, 1995) and dihydro-derivatives
of main terpenes-dihydrocarbon and dihydrocarvecol are the important mixtures of
stereoisomer. The contents of other minor and trace substances in the oil may vary
within broad limits as shown in Table 15.1., which presents an analysis of seed
samples from Egyptian origin and mid-European countries. Upon hydro-distillation,
the seeds gave 3.5% oil on dry weight basis and upon GC-MS examination, the oil
was found to contain carvone as a major constituent (81.5%) Chowdhury (2002). The
other constituents identified were citronellyl acetate, dihydrocarvone, eugenol,
isolimonene and limonene oxide, δ 3-carene, camphene, caryophyllene, carveol, ρ-
cymene, dihydrocarveol, linalool, ρ-mentha-2,8-dien-1-ol, myrecene, α-pinene, β-
pinene, phellandrene, sabinene, α-terpinene and terpinelene and were isolated in
In field tests carried out over several years in Vienna, Austria, essential oil content
was 2.8–3.3% in annual and 3.9–5% in biennial caraway cultivars. In caraway, cis-
and trans-dihydrocarvone and some isomers of carveol and dihydrocarveol were
present in the range 0.5–1% each. Solvent extraction of the crushed seeds with
hexane, a method using triple extraction and ultrasonic treatment, led to nearly identical
results as hydro-distillation with dill, but to carvone values 16% lower with caraway
(Bailer et al., 2001). The four varieties (Gintaras, Rekord, Chmelnickij and Prochana)
were studied by Venskutonis et al., (1999) under different nitrogen fertilizer regimes
(0–120 kg ha–1) and found that total content of essential oils in fruits varied from 1.9
to 4.3 ml 100 g–1. Percentage concentrations of the main caraway compounds limonene
and carvone were in the range 38.2–52.3% and 45.7–59.7%, respectively. These
compounds accounted for more than 96% of the total essential oil of all analyzed
Flavonoids (flavonoid glycosides) are the other important secondary metabolites
of Carum and seed flavonoids occur in the form of 3-0-glycosides in Carum carvi.
Few crystalline compounds were obtained from caraway seed methanolic extract and
are terpenoid constituents, predominating the oil constituent is S(+) carvone (formerly
carvol and δ-carvone), results mostly from allylic oxidation of R(+) limonene with
carveol. The monoterpene R(+) limonene ratios vary from 3:2 up to 3:1, depending
on variety of plant and storage conditions. The following compounds were obtained
crystalline from caraway seed methanolic extract (Glidewell, 1991; Kunzemann and
Herrmann, 1977; Ruszkowska, 1998). From the water-soluble portion of the methanolic
extract of caraway fruits, an aromatic compound glucoside and a glucide were isolated
together with 16 known compounds. Their structures were clarified as 2-methoxy-2-
(4′-hydroxyphenyl) ethanol, junipediol A 2-O-β-δ-glucopyranoside and L-fucitol,
respectively (Matsumura, et al., 2002). The important flavonoids isolated are listed
isoquercitrine = quercetin-3-O-B-glucopyranoside
Isoquercitrine is the predominating constituent (80 mg/kg dry weight) present in
caraway seed while others are found between two and ten times lower than this
quantity. The above-mentioned flavonoids are known to possess antioxidative
properties and activate enzymes detoxifying carcinogenic substances and metabolites
in the cells.
The enantiomeric composition of limonene and carvone caraway seed oils was
determined by chiral gas chromatography. Two different gas chromatography chiral
Table 15.1 The constituents of caraway essential oil
Constituents Contents (% of dry weight)
El Wakeil et al., 1986) Pushman et al. 1992
Essential oil 0.99 5.36
Carvone 80.17 50.46
Limonene 9.75 47.66
α pinene 0.10 –
β pinene 0.40 –
Myrecene 0.06 0.35
Paracymene 0.06 –
Caryophyllene 0.11 –
Trans-dihydrocarvone 0.59 0.18
Cis-dihydrocarvone 0.11 –
Cuminaldehyde 0.08 –
Cis-perrilyl alcohol 0.14 –
Trans-carvone 0.01 –
Cis-carvone 0.14 –
Dihydrocarveol 0.04 0.56
Cuminyl alcohol 0.02 –
Carrylaceate – 0.16
Unidentified compounds 8.17 Less than 1.00
280 Handbook of herbs and spices
columns were used to obtain enantiomeric separation of both aroma compounds and
two varieties of caraway were used for investigation. In Plewicki, the concentrations
of limonene and carvone were 31.41 and 36.24 mg/g, respectively, and in Konczewicki
they were 17.60 and 22.46 mg/g, respectively. The enantiomeric ratio was stable for
both compounds in the analyzed samples. The purity, expressed as a percentage of +
optical form to total, was high for R(+)-limonene (99.1–99.5%) and S(+)-carvone
(99.4–99.8%) in caraway seed oils (Zawirska, 2000). Microsomal preparations from
fruits of annual (cv. Karzo) and biennial (cv. Bleija) forms of C. carvi catalyse the C-
6 hydroxylation of (+)-limonene to (+)-trans-carveol, the key intermediate in the
biosynthesis of carvone ((+)-limonene-6-hydroxylase activity) as reported by
Bouwmeester et al., (1998, 1999).
The biosynthesis of the monoterpenes limonene and carvone in the fruits of caraway
(Carum carvi) proceeds from geranyl diphosphate via a three-step pathway. First,
geranyl diphosphate is cyclized to (+)-limonene by a monoterpene synthase. Second,
this intermediate is stored in the essential oil ducts without further metabolism or is
converted by limonene-6-hydroxylase to (+)-trans-carveol. Third, (+)-trans-carveol
is oxidized by a dehydrogenase to (+)-carvone. The presence of antiproliferative
polyacetylenes was suggested in Carum carvi (fruit and root) and were successfully
isolated by Nakano et al., (1998).
The coumarins in caraway seed were identified as umfelliferone, coumarin and
scopoletin, (Nielsen,1970) whereas the furocoumarins reported are 8-methoxypsoralen
(8-MOP). Five methoxypsoralen (5-MOP) were detected of bioassay of caraway
seeds of low quality of 0.005 µg/g of dry weight (Ceska et al.,1987). The coumarins
and furocoumarins are known to have antibacterial, potent photosensitizers when
activated by near UV light and thus they are phototoxic, mutagenic and photo-
carcinogenic and also exhibit strong seed germination inhibiting action. Due to such
properties as described by Ruszkowska (1998) coumarins have been identified for
utilization in psoriasis treatment and in sunscreen lotions preparation.
The presence of a high content of phenolic substances is attributed significantly as
a stabilizing effect of some spices on food especially on meat products. The phenolic
functional group is known to have antimicrobial or antioxidant properties of active
substances. The phenolic compounds identified in Carum seed are flavonoids,
glycosides, derivatives of quinic acid, proteids and tannins. The isolation of a flavone
from the methanolic extract of the seeds of Carum carvi was characterized by Rahman
and Hossain (2003) as 4′,5,7-trihdyroxy-2′-methoxyflavone.
The major constituents of essential oil of caraway are carvone and limonene,
which are known to possess insecticidal or insect-repellent effects (Zuelsdorff and
Burkholder, 1978, Su, 1987), antibacterial and antifungal effects (Janssen, et al.,
1988), inhibition of seed germination (Asplund, 1968) and sprouting in potatoes
(Beveridge, et al., 1981). The chemical structures of carvone and limonene, the
major compounds of caraway essential oil, are illustrated, in Fig. 15.1.
15.4 Main uses in food processing
Caraway is widely used as a spice for culinary purpose and for flavouring various
food products. The main caraway products are fruit (generally known as seed), herb
and seed oils. It was popular from ancient times for its use in folk medicines and the
entire plant of caraway has its herbal value but commercially it is valued for fruit.
Caraway is grown widely in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary
and Romania for seed purposes and is reported to have been used as a condiment for
flavouring and food preparation in Europe and Middle East in ancient times. The
main processed products of caraway are whole seed, essential oil, oleoresin, powder,
and a few others. They are used in the food industry, cosmetics, beverage and
pharmaceutical industries primarily for flavouring and medicinal purposes (Malhotra,
2006a). The main processed products from caraway seeds and their uses in the food
processing industry are described below.
15.4.1 Whole seed
The caraway seed has a characteristic distinct warm, slightly sweet, very sharp somewhat
acrid but pleasant aroma. Caraway seed is processed for drying, cleaning, grading and
is mostly traded in this form in the international market. Due to its inherent preserving
qualities it is known to possess good storage life similar to pepper. Caraway seed is
widely used as a spice for seasoning, at both the household and commercial levels.
Use at household level
In middle Europe caraway is used as a common spice, the Germans use caraway seed
in many of their baked breads, piecrusts, sauces and their famous sauerbraten, whereas
the Austrians like it in stews. Italians boil hot chestnuts with caraway seed before
roasting them. Caraway masks the smell of heavy foods like spare ribs, roast goose,
pork, mutton, oxtail stew or other hearty meat dishes, and adds an interesting sweetness
to apples, pound cake and cheeses. Caraway seed is used in canapés, onion bread,
cheese spreads, omelettes, coleslaw, cooked pastas, rye bread, soups, salad dressings,
sauces, rice, boiled seafoods, cabbage and potato, soups, sauerkraut, cucumber salad,
poultry dressings, stews, homemade sausage and vegetables such as beets, carrots,
cabbage, cucumbers, onions, turnips, green beans, potatoes, cauliflower, and zucchini
Use at commercial level
Caraway seed is mostly used in bakery products and alcoholic beverages for adding
taste and aroma. In the bakery industry, caraway seed is not only mixed into white
and rye bread but is also sprinkled on the dough before baking for better dispersed
aroma and for enhancing the taste impression (Daffershofer, 1980).
(+) Limonene(+) Carvone
Fig. 15.1 The major compounds of caraway essential oil.
282 Handbook of herbs and spices
The flavouring of different kinds of alcoholic beverages has a long tradition
particularly from Denmark and other Scandinavian countries. The popular products
described as akvavit or aquavit are flavoured using neutral alcohol distillates of
caraway. Caraway is added only before distillation (Ney, 1987) and in this way the
flavour of the drink is attributable to the distillates of caraway. Some well-known
alcoholic beverages world wide are listed in Table 15.2. In American Gin the flavour
additives mostly used include juniper berries and cardamom as well as caraway seeds
(Cole and Nobel, 1995).
15.4.2 Ground caraway
Ground caraway is produced by grinding dried, cleaned and sterilized fruits. The fine
powder product is mostly used for seasoning of foods whereas the coarse product is
used for the purpose of extraction of essential oil, oleoresin and other extractives.
The pre-chilling and reduced grinding can be used to overcome the loss of volatiles.
Cryo-grinding, can better help in reducing the oil loss during the process of grinding
and maintaining the particle size to optimum so as to ensure the free flow for the
duration of its shelf-life (Russo, 1976). Moreover, cryoground caraway dispenses
more uniformly in spice formulations and is therefore used as a spice for seasoning,
at both the household and commercial levels. Ground caraway is mostly used for
adding taste and aroma to various food preparations at home level, in bakery products
and alcoholic beverages.
15.4.3 Essential oil
Caraway essential oil is obtained by steam distillation or hydro-distillation of fruits
or chaff or herb and root according to the market requirement and particular use. But
the essential oil extracted from seed is superior in quality and commercially valued
more. In general, the essential oil content in caraway seed ranges from 2.9 to 5.1%
with major components of d-carvone up to 65% and d-limonene up to 40% but these
proportions are variable. The high-quality seed may contain up to 7% volatile oil and
up to 15% fixed oil. Sedlakova et al., 2003b reported that seed samples collected
before maturation had lower essential oil content than samples harvested in full
ripeness. Samples collected before harvest had elongated, narrow seeds, while those
gathered after ripeness had rounder seeds. The recovery of essential oil content was
also more from supercritical fluid extraction than steam distillation on caraway and
the essential oil content extracted was comparatively more from ground caraway
rather than whole seeds in both of the methods of essential oil extraction.
In whole caraway extracts, the carvone content was 81.53%; in ground caraway
Table 15.2 Popular alcoholic beverages using caraway (Clutton, 1995)
Beverage name Origin Remarks
Akvavit or aquavit Scandinavia Caraway with aniseed and fennel 40% alcohol
Allash Russia Sweet kummel with bitter almonds and aniseed
Cloc Denmark Kummel 31% alcohol, colorless
Kummel Netherlands Caraway with some anise and cumin minimum
5% alcohol, one of the oldest liqueurs with digestive
extracts, the carvone content declined to 66.37%. Among the three types of seed
mills evaluated by Sedlakova et al., (2003a) (ETA 0067 with millstones, splintery
VIPO mill and cryogenic mill Vibrom), the highest amount of extracted essential oil
was obtained with the splintery mill VIPO (2.55%). The essential oil is a mobile
liquid, almost colourless to pale yellow with a warm, spicy hot taste. The oil has
virtually replaced the seed in processed foods, and is extensively used as a flavour
component in processed meats, pickles, sauces, seasonings and similar preparations
in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
The fresh seed can be crushed and immediately processed for distillation to avoid
evaporation losses and recovery of more essential oil content. The average essential
oil yield, as assessed on laboratory scale, was around 70 kg/ha with a top yield of 160
kg/ha (Dachler et al., 1995). The oil has a strong characteristic odour due to the
carvone content and the rectified oil received from the process of double distillation
is colourless to pale yellow and has a strong odour and more biting taste. Caraway
essential oil has a ready market in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. It
is used in all major categories of foods including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages,
frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins and puddings, meat and meat
products, condiment and relishes and others. The highest average maximum use level
is reported to be about 0.02% in baked goods. It is also used as a fragrance component
in cosmetic preparations including toothpastes, mouthwashes, soaps, creams, lotions
and perfumes, with a maximum use level of 0.4% reported in perfumes (Leung and
Caraway essential oil may be used as animal food (pasture) for milking cows and
sheep according to old publications by Heeger, (1956) but nowadays it is uncommon.
Dried seeds after crushing are processed for distillation in order to obtain a better
yield and higher quality of oil; crushed seeds are spread evenly on perforated grids
provided in the still so that complete penetration of the steam is allowed. It takes
about 6–8 hours for optimum distillation of one batch. According to Bentley and
Trimen (1999) the caraway derived from a northern or elevated locality, yield the
most oil. Moreover, the oil distilled from grown caraway is preferred, and is alone
recognized in the British pharmacopoeia. The Dutch oil is also regarded as better
than that distilled in the southern parts of Germany.
15.4.4 Fatty oil
The fatty oils produced from the distillation process of caraway seed has been reported
to 15% and particularly rich in petroselinic acid. The fatty acid profiles of the oils
were analysed by automated GC and petroselinic and cis-vaccenic acids were obtained
as the major components (Reiter et al., 1998). The petroselinic acid is an important
raw material for oleochemical processes and can be easily cracked into lauric and
adipinic-acid (Lechner, 1997) in the related industry. The fatty oils produced from
caraway seed have their use in various pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. Caraway
fatty oils are primarily used in the soap industry, for flavouring and as a deodorant in
the manufacture of perfumed disinfectant soaps.
15.4.5 Caraway chaff oil
Caraway chaff oil is distilled from the husks and stalks that remain after threshing
and is considered inferior in quality compared with oil extracted from seeds. The
284 Handbook of herbs and spices
dried exhausted and pulverized caraway chaff contains 20–23.5% crude protein of
which 75–85% is digestible and 14–16% is fat and can be used as an ideal cattle feed.
The chaff oil is obtained by steam distillation of material left after threshing of fruits
and contains less carvone and more terpenes. It has less of the characteristic odour of
the seed oil and is harsher with a somewhat bitter taste. This is produced on a very
small scale and is also used as an adulterant of the fruit oil.
15.4.6 Herb and root oil
Caraway herb oil is obtained by steam distillation from fresh whole plant, stalks,
leaves and seeds. The top stem is usually prepared for the distillation process and
stems are removed. Some growers feel that it should be harvested before flowering
and others say it is better afterwards. Caraway herb oil has similarity in flavour with
oil extracted from seed and could quickly expand to commercial production as an
alternative to seed. The root oil can also be obtained by distillation of minced roots
and consists mainly it oxygenated compounds with aldehydes up to 70% including
octanal, nonanal, cis-dec-4-enal and trans-dec-2-enal. The complete analysis of herb
oil and root oil in comparison to essential oil extracted from seed is not available but
it is considered that it is inferior in quality to seed oil and is also used as an adulterant
of fruit oil.
15.4.7 Caraway carvone
The essential oil constituent d-carvone is a nearly colourless to pale yellow liquid,
which darkens with age. The odour of caraway carvone is warm, herbaceous, bread-
like, spicy and slightly floral. The taste is sweet, spicy and bread-like. The carvone
reportedly has certain cancer-preventive properties and anthelmintic properties. Pure
carvone is prepared by decomposing crystalline compounds of carvone with hydrogen-
sulphide. Carvone also has uses in the soap industry for addition of natural aroma.
Demand for carvone fluctuates and is confined to a particular segment of the market
but regular extraction of carvone can become an alternative to caraway seed in the
food-processing and pharmaceutical industries.
15.4.8 Decarvonized oil
Decarvonized oil consists of limonene with traces of carvone and is sold on the
market as light oil of caraway. It finds use in scenting soaps. At the beginning of
distillation the essential oil has higher carvone, whereas at the end limonene
predominates. The reason is that carvone is an oxygen-containing compound and is
several times more soluble in water than limonene.
15.4.9 Caraway oleoresin
The oleoresin of caraway fruit is prepared by extraction of crushed dried seed with
suitable volatile oil solvents like food-grade hexane ethanol, ethyl acetate or ethylene
dichloride; filtration and desolventization under vacuum. The organic solvent should
be recovered completely from oleoresin as per the ISO, as well as the fixed maximum
permissible limits for the approved solvents of the importing countries. Caraway
oleoresin is one of the most valuable flavouring agents as it imparts warm, aromatic
and pleasing flavours to food products. It contains essential oil, organically soluble
resins and other related materials present in the original spices, is usually a greenish
shade of yellow, and normally contains 20–25% volatile and 60–75% fixed oil as
reported by Weiss (2002). The effects of polar solvent or modifier (methanol, ethanol,
acetone, acetonitrile, hexane, dichloromethane (methylene chloride), chloroform or
toluene)) application during extraction on essential oil yield were studied in cv.
Kepron and all modifiers significantly increased the essential oil yield. The use of
chloroform was most effective, increasing the amount of extracted essential oil by
approximately 91% compared to steam distillation (Sedlakova et al., 2003b).
Commercial samples in the USA require a minimum of 60% volatile oil with a
dispersion rate of 5%. The high fixed oil content usually requires the addition of an
antioxidant to the legal limit.
15.5 Functional properties
Caraway fruits are aromatic and are quite spicy in taste. An analysis of caraway seed
samples shows it contains small amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and
vitamins. The nutritive constituents present in caraway seed are given in Table 15.3.
The nutritive value of caraway seed if consumed as such is small but it is valued more
for the peculiar flavour and specific medicinal properties.
Caraway seeds and extractives are known to possess a number of functional properties
and are therefore valued as folk medicines for curing various ailments and as
contemporary medicine in the cosmetic industry. They are
•carminative, stimulant and expectorant
•antiflatulent and antispasmodic
Table 15.3 Proximate composition of caraway seed (100 g edible portion)
Farrell, 1999 Bakhru, 2001
Water (g) 9.9 4.5
Food Energy (KCal) 333 465
Protein (g) 19.8 7.6
Fat (g) 14.6 8.8
Total carbohydrate (g) 49.9 60.2
Fibre (g) 12.7 –
Ash (g) 5.9 3.7
Calcium (mg) 689 1000
Iron (mg) 16 90
Magnesium (mg) 258 –
Phosphorus (mg) 568 110
Potassium (mg) 1351 1900
Sodium (mg) 17 20
Zinc (mg) 6 –
Niacin (mg) 4 801
Vitamin A (IU) 363 580
Thiamine (mg) – 3.38
Riboflavin (mg) – 0.38
Vitamin C (mg) – 12
286 Handbook of herbs and spices
•mildly antibacterial and antifungal
•emmenogogues and lactogogues
The seeds of Carum carvi are like those of many other umbelliferous plants, aromatic
and stimulant and are perhaps the most commonly used of any and are excellent
carminatives and stomachics. Caraway fruit is mentioned by pharmacopoeias of
numerous European countries, the USA and others, and most of all is used as a
component of herbal mixtures recommended as digestives, carminatives and
galactagogues. According to Chevalier, (2001), the seeds are expectorant and tonic
and are frequently used in bronchitis and cough remedies, especially those for children.
Different caraway preparations solely (Lutomski and Alkiewicz, 1993; Ozarowski
and Jaroniewski, 1987) and or in composition with other herbs and spices (Sadowska
and Obidoska, 1998) are given in Table 15.4.
The other important functional properties reported for the caraway seed and essential
oil are as antiflatulents and antispasmodics. In colic and gastrodynia, a few drops of
this oil or half a teaspoonful of the seeds are sovereign remedies. A liniment formed
by adding a few drops of this oil to a small quantity of olive oil is rubbed over the pit
of stomach or the abdomen in cases of colic (George, 1996). Being antispasmodic,
the seeds soothe the digestive tract, acting directly on the intestinal muscles to relieve
colic and gripping as well as bloating and flatulence. The presence of d-limonene and
d-carvone probably contribute towards caraway’s antispasmodic action. Duke et al.,
(2002) have mentioned ED 5O caraway oil as a confirmed antispasmodic when used
at a dose of 20 mg/l. In a study tablets containing a combination of 100 mg of each
of peppermint leaves, caraway and fennel fruits, and 30 mg gentian root were
administered to patients with idiopathic dyspepsia. In the first study, administration
of three, six or nine tablets (or a placebo) to patients with acute symptoms immediately
after a meal showed that three tablets were sufficient to reduce these after an hour. In
the second, patients with chronic symptoms were each given two tablets three times
a day for 14 days, or a placebo. Relief was obtained in the experimental patients after
a week, with a further improvement in the second week (Uehleke et al., 2002). The
enteric-coated combination preparation consisting of (2x1 capsules containing
90 mg peppermint oil + 50 mg caraway oil) per day as compared with cisapride,
provide an effective means for treatment of functional dyspepsia (Madisch et al.,
1999; Freise and Kohler, 1999).
Caraway is recommended as a remedy for digestive tract disorders like flatulence,
eructation, stomach aches, constipation, lack of appetite and nausea. In small children
caraway is used to treat flatulence and stomach aches, in the elderly for bile flow
disorders, intestinal atony and vegetative neurosis (Ozarowski and Jaroniewski, 1987).
Fruits of caraway ingested orally produce an effect on the digestive tract, bile ducts,
liver and kidneys. They have spasmolytic properties, bile ducts and the sphincter
regulating the flow of bile and pancreatic juices to the duodenum. They act as a
cholagogue and increase the secretion of gastric juices, which results in appetite and
The use of caraway fruits by breast-feeding women and bovines favours milk
secretion and enhances lactation and has an indirect, beneficial effect on the baby’s
digestive system, because of the antigripping quality present in it. The component
acting as a galactagogue in caraway seed has not been identified but limonene and
carvone, the main components of caraway seed having antigripping qualities, were
found in the essential oils of goat milk when goats had consumed 3.5 g caraway seeds
1. Caraway seed
a. Caraway honey
b. Caraway tea
c. Caraway syrup
2. Caraway Herbal
a. Mixture of fruits
of caraway, anise,
thyme in equal
b. Mixture of fruits
anise fennel in
c. Mix fruits of
d. Mix double
thistle herb and
3. Caraway herbal
a. Mix fruits of
thyme in equal
1 g caraway fruit powder and
one TSF honey
Pour 1.5 glass (capacity 0.35 l)
of boiling water over 1 TSF of
Pour 1 glass (capacity 0.25 1)
of boiling water over 1 TSF of
pulverized fruits keep covered
for 30 min, strain and add honey.
Pour a glass (capacity 250 ml)
of boiling water over 1 TSF of
herbs keep covered for 30 min.
Pour a glass (250 ml) of boiling
water over 1 TSF of herbs keep
covered for 30 min.
Pour a glass (250 ml) of boiling
water over 1 TSF of herbs, keep
covered for 30 min.
Pour a glasse (500 ml) of boiling
water over 1.5 TSF of herbs in
thermos keep covered for 1 hr.
Pour 0.75 l of white, dry wine
over 3 TSF of herbs leaves for 2
weeks (Shaking from time to
2–4 times a day
Drink 0.5 glass
2–3 times a day
Serve 1 TSF after
Drink 0.5 glass 2
times a days after
Drink 0.5 glass 2
times a day
Drink 0.5 glass 2
times a day
Drink 0.5 l glass
30 min before
Drink about 50
ml two times a
day after meals
Table 15.4 Key preparations from caraway and their application in medicine
Preparation Dose formulation Properties as Dose
288 Handbook of herbs and spices
Table 15.4 Continued
Preparation Dose formulation Properties as Dose
b. Mix fruits of
root of valerian
herb of St.
leaves of Bahu
4. Liniment of
5. Liniment of
6. Liniment for
(Duke et al.,
a. Caraway seed
b. Caraway seed
c. Caraway seed
Pour 0.5 l of boiling water over
2 TSF of herbs in a thermos and
keep closed for 30 min.
Dissolve 10 g of caraway
essential oil and 5 g of thyme
essential oil in 15 ml of 95%
ethanol. Mix with 150 g castor
oil or some other plant oil
Few drops caraway oil and olive
5 parts each of caraway oil and
alcohol in 75 parts of castor oil
1.5–6 g fruit
1–2 TSF crushed seed/cup water
Chew 1 tsp seed
0.5–2 g powdered seed
0.05–0.2 ml concentrated seed
0.5–1 tsp tincture or
3–4 ml liquid extract
3–6 drops oil or 0.05–0.2 ml
Drink about a
0.5 l glass 3
times a day
over affected area
Rub the liniment
affected area on
2–4 times a day
3–4 times a day
3 times a day
3–4 times a day
daily supplemented with the diet (Molnar et al., 1997). The addition of 50 g caraway
seeds to the basic diet daily to lactating buffalo continued for 12 weeks of lactation,
increased the milk yield, daily fat, SNF, lactose and protein yield significantly (El-
Alamy et al., 2001). Caraway 50–100 g diet supplemented daily with ground caraway
seeds to Black Pied cows had a favourable effect on the milk yield and milk quality
(Portnoi, 1996). Caraway possesses antioxidant properties and in a report by Farag
and El-Khawas, (1998) the essential oils extracted from the gamma-irradiated
(10 KGy) caraway fruits were more effective as antioxidants than those produced
from microwaved fruits (low oven power setting for one minute).
Caraway essential oil or carvone, owing to antifungal and antibacterial properties,
is recommended for external use for the control of dermal mycosis and scabies.
The inhibitory properties of caraway extractives have been reported against
Staphylococcus aureus, Esherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Vibrio cholerae (Syed
et al., 1987) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mishenkova et al., 1985). These properties
give caraway industrial importance in scenting soaps to be used as deodorants. For
the treatment of scabies, a solution containing five parts each of alcohol and oil of
caraway in 75 parts of castor oil is recommended for taking orally (Pruthi, 2001,
Bakhru, 2001), who further reported caraway seed, seed oil and carvone to possess
anthelmintic properties, especially in removing hookworms from the intestines. In
Indonesia the leaves mixed with garlic and spat on the skin are recommended to treat
inflamed eczema (Perry, 1980).
The taste of caraway being warm, pungent and aromatic makes it suitable for
overcoming bad breath or insipid taste and thus is used in oral preparations for
control of unpleasant odour or taste. Caraway has been proved as an adjuvant or
corrective for medicines and is recommended as a remedy curing digestive tract
disorders such as relieving gas from the stomach. It is also known to counter any
possible adverse effects of medicines and masks the foul smell of foods. Caraway has
also been reported to play a therapeutic role by showing advantageous effects on
intestinal iron absorption (El Shobaki et al., 1990). The essential oil from caraway
has been reported to be potentially anti-carcinogenic (Zheng et al., 1992). This cancer
chemopreventive property of caraway oil is probably due to the induction of the
detoxifying enzyme glutathione 5-transferase (GST). They further reported that carvone
and limonene are the compounds responsible for the above mentioned property while
carvone exhibited even higher activity as a GST inducer. Higashimoto et al., (1993)
also reported potent antimutagenic activity of caraway extracts against N-methyl-N-
nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine induced cancers in experimental animals. Thus abundance
of cancer chemopreventive substances (carvone) in diet may even inhibit the early
stages of carcinogenesis. Caraway has been reported to be used in the form of poultices
for the control of swellings in the breast and the testicles.
15.5.1 Use as veterinary medicine
Due to the presence of several functional properties in caraway such as being
carminative, antiflatulent, antispasmodic, antibacterial, antifungal and galactagogue,
the use of Carum carvi seed and extractives is very popular in the treatment of
animals for various ailments. As a veterinary medicine for animals, the caraway herb
is more a popular remedy than the fruit. The use of caraway, as decoction of fruit and
herbs for animals, improves digestion by promoting gastric secretion and stimulates
appetite. It is also used to cure gastrointestinal disorders like flatulence, stomach
aches and gripes. Caraway fruit coarse powder or dry herb mixed together, when fed
to cows, mares and other animals, enhanced lactation (Voloshchuk, et al., 1985,
Sadowska and Obidoska, 1998). The decoction of fruits is a good remedy for rabbits,
piglets and other animals against verminous disease. The effectiveness of caraway
extract has been reported by Gadzhiev and Eminov (1986) against trichostrongyle
larvae in rams. An ointment made from powdered fruits mixed with vaseline is
290 Handbook of herbs and spices
recommended against scabs, manges, mycosis and other dermal diseases. Due to its
antibacterial and antifungal functional properties, caraway is also used to heal infected
injuries and burns. Caraway diet supplementation 12 g/kg diet in New Zealand white
rabbits, improved reproductive efficiency, doe milk yield and pup pre-weaning mortality
(Rashwan, 1998). Lipid oxidation was effectively inhibited in chicken meat treated
with marjoram (Origanum). Wild marjoram and caraway (Carum carvi) were the
most effective dry spices (El-Alim et al., 1999).
15.5.2 Natural potato sprout inhibitor
Besides the use of caraway seeds, caraway seed powder and essential oils in the food
and pharmaceutical industries, it has proved to be an important natural sprout inhibitor
in potato by extending the dormancy period and quality after storage. Caraway as a
natural sprout inhibitor had a positive effect on the reduction in respiration intensity
dry matter, reducing sugars and starch contents after seven months during storage
(Zabaliuniene, et al., 2003). A few monoterpenes from caraway, including S-carvone
(the safe food ingredient), were found to suppress sprout growth under warehouse
conditions for more than a year, depending upon the amount applied (Hartmans et al.,
1995). S-carvone as a commercial suppressant for ware potatoes under the tradename
‘Talent’ is available in the Netherlands.
Caraway seed and essential oil do not appear to have any significant toxicity to
human beings. Most authors agree that caraway shows no toxic affect towards people
and is well tolerated in medicinal doses and as a spice. However Lewis (1977), while
discussing the problem of allergy, mentioned carvone as a sensitizing substance and
classified caraway among plants causing contact dermatitis. Furocoumarins such as
5-methoxypsoralen and 8-methoxypsoralen, the known potent photosensitizing
substances, were detected in traces (Ceska et al.,1987) and thus are not harmful. The
residues of nitrate, nitrite and pesticides in herbs can be transformed by bacteria to
toxic nitrites which can cause blood circulation disorders and methemoglobinemia,
but analysis of caraway samples has exhibited no contents of nitrites but nitrates
content was noticed in relatively small quantities (Gajewska et al., 1995). Similarly,
analysis of pesticide residues through gas liquid and thin layer chromatography tests
showed that HCH was the main compound found and residue did not exceed the
maximum limit of 0.2 mg/kg.
Duke et al., (2002) have mentioned that caraway hazards and/or side effects are
not known for proper therapeutic dosages. The drug is contraindicated in inflammation
of the kidneys, since apiaceous essential oils may increase the inflammation as a
result of epithelial irritation. Overdoses for long periods can lead to kidney and/or
liver damage. Caraway essential oil has proved toxic to mites and insects. It has been
reported to inhibit allergy-causing mites Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, D. farinael,
Euroglyphus maynei, Acarus siro, Tyrophagus putrescentiae, Glycyphagus domesticus,
Lepidogoly phus destructor and Ghiera fusca (Ottoboni et al., 1992). The petroleum
ether extract of caraway seed has shown acaricidal properties for inhibiting Tyrogphagus
putrescentiae mite (Afifi and Hafez,1988) and toxicity to some insects causing larval
inhibition in Musca domestica, Culex pipiens, fatigans and mosquito (Deshmukh and
Renapurkar,1987) and fifth instar larvae of Spodoptera littoralis (Antonious and
Volatile toxicity of caraway was recorded by setting up a bioassay, with experimental
units of 0.5 l, which took into account the storage pests, the mode of oil application
(vapours only, avoiding direct contact) and the stored product, causing 100 and 60%
mortality in Callosobruchus maculatus at 10 µl and 1 µl, respectively, while 25 µl
was needed to kill 68% of Sitophilus granarius adults (Pascual et al., 2002). The
vapours of the essential oils (80–160 ppm) of caraway (Carum carvi), exhibited
antifungal properties against Mycocentrospora acerina, Fibularhizoctonia carotae
(Rhizoctonia carotae) and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, three important post-harvest
pathogens of carrots. Horberg (1998) also reported that high dosage levels were more
important than exposure time for the fungicidal activity of the plant extracts.
Numerous species of fungi are known to produce toxic and carcinogenic mycotoxins
during storage, they can be consumed with contaminated fruits, cumulated in liver
and can result to cancer. The fungi like Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger and
Fusarium moniliforma can cause biochemical changes in caraway fruits and can lead
to reduction in protein, carbohydrates, and total oil and increase in fatty acids (Regina
and Tulasi-Raman 1992). The extent of inhibition of fungal growth and mycotoxin
production was dependent on the concentration of essential oils used. Caraway oil
was inhibitory at 2000 ppm against A. flavus and A. parasiticus, and at 3000 ppm
against A. ochraceus and F. moniliforma, the mycotoxigenic fungi (Soliman and
Badeaa, 2002) and use of caraway oil (4%) also showed high antimicrobial activity
against A. tumefaciens, R. solanacearum and Erwinia carotovora (Hassanein and
The application of caraway essential oil has shown inhibitory effect on three
strains of Gram-negative and four Gram-positive bacteria. Thus according to Farag
et al., (1989b), the use of natural essential oils can be of great importance practically
as anti-microbial agents to prevent deterioration of stored foods by bacteria and will
not cause health problems to the consumer and handler. Likewise, Carum carvi
essential oil causes inhibition of mycelial growth and aflatoxin production of Aspergillus
parasticus and can prove to be an alternative to chemical preservatives such as
potassium fluoride, acetic acid and potassium sulphite addition in foods (Farag et al.,
1989a). Such toxic properties of caraway to bacteria, fungi and insects and non-toxic
behaviour to human beings offers great scope as a botanical inhibitor for crop raising
and safe storage under the organic production system.
15.7 Quality specifications
15.7.1 Specification for whole seeds
The physical description of the quality of caraway seeds depends mainly on
•Quantity of mature, undamaged seeds with external appearance that provides
visual perception of quality such as colour, uniformity of size, shape and texture.
•The colour of the crescent-shaped, hard seeds is greyish tan to dark brown
marked with five light coloured ridges and length. Whole fruits are 3–7 mm long
1–2 cm thick and slightly curved.
•The scent from seeds is very aromatic, sweet, spicy, fresh, characteristic, agreeable,
slightly minty, with a penetrating medicinal effect resembling anise.
292 Handbook of herbs and spices
•The seed weight of 1000 grains of biennial type caraway is 3–4.5 g and annual
type is around 5.2 g (Franz,1996)
The minimum specific quality indices for caraway seed are given below (Farrell, 1999)
total ash 8.0%
acid soluble ash 1.0%
seed moisture 10%
volatile oil 3%
The general characteristics of quality standards as laid down under the Prevention of
Food Adulteration (PFA) Act and Rules by BSI of India for caraway are defined
below (Pruthi, 2001).
Caraway whole seed means the dried seed of the plant (Carum carvi Linn). Extraneous
matter including foreign edible seeds, chaff, stem straw, dust, dirt, stones and lumps
of earth shall not exceed 5% by weight. The amount of insect damaged matter shall
not exceed 5% by weight. It shall be free from added colouring matter.
15.7.2 Caraway powder
Caraway powder means the powder obtained from the dried seed of Carum carvi (L).
It may be in the form of small pieces of the seeds or in finely ground form. It shall
be free from added colouring matter. The ground product should be uniform, allowing
a minimum of 95% by weight to pass through a US Standard No. 30 sieve, in addition
it shall conform to the following standards:
moisture: not more than 13% by weight
total ash: not more than 8% by weight
ash insoluble in dilute HCI: not more than 1.5%
15.7.3 Essential oil and fixed oil
The essential oil content of caraway seed generally ranges between 2–5% and it
primarily contains carvone (47–81%), limonene (9–48%) and fixed oil (15%). Caraway
oil is a mobile liquid, almost colourless to pale yellow, although it may become
brownish to dark brown depending upon time. The physico-chemical properties of
caraway seed oil are as follows (Singhal et al.,1997)
S. No. Characters Requirement
1. Appearance Pale yellow
2. Odour Strong spicy
3. Specific gravity at 15 °C 0.907–0.919
4. Refractive index 20 °C 1.484–1.488
5. Optical rotation +70° 0′ to +80°0′
6. Carvone contents 50–60%
7. Limonene 20–30%
8. Solubility Seldom soluble in 70% alcohol, soluble
in 2–10 volumes of 80% alcohol, clearly
soluble in equal volumes of 90% alcohol.
The quality standards as prescribed by the American Spices Trade Association (ASTA)
and ISO are given in Table 15.5 and 15.6.
Caraway seed is available both whole or in ground form and is subjected to adulteration
by the addition of exhausted or spent seed (from which oil or oleoresins have been
extracted), excess stems, chaff and earth or dust. Caraway essential oil is also adulterated
with caraway chaff, caraway wild types and root oil. The range of caraway essential
oil is 2.5–5% and it should preferably contain limonene and carvone at an enantiomeric
ratio ranging between 0.75–1.00. If chaff oil is added than the enantiomeric ratio will
be more than 1.00, indicating the presence of more limonene and less carvone. The
ratio of limonene and carvone varies with variety and geographical location and
requires further study to standardize such quality parameters for judging the quality.
The oleoresin may be adulterated by added synthetic saturated acid. The detection of
these adulterants for oil and oleoresins can be done by using gas chromatography or
high performance liquid chromatography techniques. Adulterations at any level can
be detected by using the specifications as explained separately for whole seed, powdered
seed, essential oil and oleoresins.
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Table 15.5 Cleanliness specifications for caraway seed as per ASTA
Crop Whole Excreta, Excreta, Mould % Insect defiled/ Extraneous/
insects dead mammalian other by by weight infested % foreign matter %
by count by mg/lb mg/lb. by weight by weight
Caraway 4 3.00 10.00 1.00 1.00 0.50
Source: Muggeridge et al., (2001).
Table 15.6 Quality standards for caraway seed as per ISO
Commodity Ash% w/w A/A% w/s H2O% W/W V/o % W/W
max. max. max. min.
Dutch caraway 8 1.5 13 2.5
Source: Muggeridge et al., (2001).
294 Handbook of herbs and spices
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