Storing Caraway: Learn How To Dry Caraway Seeds
By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Dried caraway seeds add a sweet, subtle, licorice-likeflavor to baked goods, hot dishes, soups, soft cheese and a variety of otherculinary treats. Dried caraway seeds may even aid digestion and soothe upsettummies. If you’re wondering how to preserve caraways seeds from the plantsgrown in your garden, drying caraway is the easiest and safest wayto go. Want to learn how to dry caraway seeds? Read on for easy instructions.
How to Dry Caraway Seeds
Harvest ripe caraway plants when the seed pods have driedand changed color but haven’t yet shattered. Divide the plants into smallbunches. (You can also uproot entire plants).
Put each bunch (or plant) in a paper sack with the top ofthe bag gathered and tied around the stems. Poke a few small holes in the sackto provide air circulation.
Hang each bunch upside-down in a dry room where temperaturesare consistently between 70 and 80 F. (21-27 C.). The pods will dry in two tofour weeks. Give the sack a good shake to release the seeds from the pods. Thesack will catch the seeds as they fall from the pods.
Another method of drying caraway seeds is to spread the seedpods on a screen or net-covered tray. Set the pods aside to dry. You can alsodry them in a food dehydrator on the lowest temperature. When the pods arecompletely dry, rub them in your hands to separate the seeds.
Storing Caraway Seeds: Saving Dried Caraway Seeds
Be sure the caraway seeds are completely dry; otherwise,they may mold. To be sure, put the seeds in a jar and leave them for about aweek. Check the seeds daily. If you notice any signs of moisture, remove theseeds and let them dry for a few more days.
Store dried caraway seeds in a dry, cool place, preferablyin a dark-colored glass jar or tin container. Avoid paper or cardboardcontainers, which absorb the flavorful oils and leave you with bland, tastelessseeds.
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How to Cook With Caraway
Caraway seeds are highly aromatic and have a distinctive mild anise flavor that adds a welcome and subtle licorice hint to many dishes. Their taste is earthy, with a hint of citrus and pepper. A frequent addition to spice cabinets, caraway seeds are actually the dried fruit of the caraway plant. Nevertheless, they're commonly referred to as seeds in the culinary world. If you've ever eaten rye bread, you no doubt tasted caraway seeds.
Caraway seeds are similar in flavor to aniseed—not star anise—and you can substitute anise seeds for caraway seeds in a recipe.
How to Dry Herbs for Storage
After harvesting, you want to dry herbs quickly to preserve their essential oils for the greatest flavor intensity and medicinal properties. I don’t add moisture by rinsing my herbs, unless I can see visible dust or pests. Herbs must be dried completely before storing in jars. Ideal drying environment is in a dark, warm, dust-free area with good air circulation. Leaves are ready for storage when they feel dry and crumbly. Here are several methods to dry herbs for storage:
Hang and Air Dry Herbs: Air-drying is the easiest method to dry herbs with stems. Tie the stems into small bundles and hang them upside down in a dry, warm, dust-free, and airy place out of direct sunlight. I like to use elastics around the stems because they will still hold the bunch together as the stems shrink when they are dry.
Air Dry Herbs Using a Drying Screen: Alternatively, you can spread the herbs out on a window screen or drying screen to dry. Suspend the drying screen over two chairs so the air can circulate above and below the screen. See how to make your own drying screen or check out these Stacking Herb Drying Racks from Gardener’s Supply.
Use a Food Dehydrator: Our summers here in Maine are humid, and the moisture in the air can prevent some herbs from air-drying naturally. I use a food dehydrator to dry herbs faster. A dehydrator works by circulating a gentle flow of air through screens. Use low heat so you don’t degrade the quality of the herbs.
Further Drying Seeds: Remove the seeds from the seed heads and spread out in a shallow layer in an open container to dry further for about 1-2 weeks. Separate the seeds from the seed head and chaff.
I like to place the seed heads in a paper bag with a few holes poked in the top for air. After a few weeks, I give the bag a good shake to release the seeds from the seed head. Then I separate the seeds from the dried plant material and spread them out in a shallow container for additional drying before storing.