Useful gardening information
Cumin is an herb that many associate with Mexican and Spanish foods, but it is also widely used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. It has a very distinct flavor, and in the US is most often used in packaged taco seasonings.
Cumin's flavor makes it a favorite for many, but it also has many healthy attributes.
According to Mountain Rose Herbs: "Cumin is the seed of a small plant in the parsley family. Its use goes back 5000 years to the Egyptians, who used it not only as a spice but as an ingredient in the mummification process. The Greeks and Romans also used cumin and highly regarded it as one of the essential spices.
In the Middle Ages cumin seed was thought to promote love and fidelity, so it was carried by attendees of weddings, and solders were always sent off to battle with a fresh loaf of cumin seed bread. Pungent, sharp, and slightly sweet, the greenish brown powder of this herb is an essential ingredient in Mexican and Indian cuisine."
It has been used in herbal medicine: "In traditional herbal medicine, cumin is used as a diuretic and to treat stomach upset and flatulence. It is thought to promote a healthy digestive system. Cumin stimulates menstruation, and also can be added to gargles to treat laryngitis. Poultices of cumin are used to treat swellings of the breasts or testicles. In Ayurvedic medicine, cumin with ghee is smoked to relieve hiccups. According to the Bible, cumin was so valuable that it could be used in the place of money when it came time to tithe in church."
Cumin is a good source of Iron, Manganese, and other vitamins and minerals. Some research shows that cumin can stimulate the production of pancreatic enzymes and help digestion. One study found that cumin was protective against memory loss and the damaging effects of stress on the body.
Another study evaluated the antioxidant content of Cumin and found it more effective than other common antioxidants including Vitamin C. Due to it's high antioxidant content, some lab research has even found that it might have a role in fighting cancer.
Yet another study found Cumin effective in increasing insulin sensitivity, thus beneficial for diabetics. Still more research found anti-asthmatic properties in Cumin since it works as a brochiodiator and can help asthmatic patients.
Sow seeds indoors ¼" deep. Transplant outdoors 2-3 weeks after last frost. Seeds can also be direct seeded 2-3 weeks after last frost when soil is warm. Cumin prefers well-drained fertile soil and hot conditions.
Links to useful information on the web:
HR440 Cumin ( Cuminum cyminum )
The cumin plant is a small, annual that only grows to be 1 foot in height. It has pink or white flowers. The blossoms give rise to oblong fruit that contains the seeds. The seeds are harvested in the late summer when they ripen.
Cumin has been in use since ancient times. Seeds excavated at one site have been dated to the second millennium BC. In the ancient Egyptian civilisation cumin was used as spice and as preservative in mummification.
Originally cultivated in Iran and the Mediterranean region, cumin is mentioned in the Bible in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:27) and the New Testament (Matthew 23:23). The ancient Greeks kept cumin at the dining table in its own container (much as pepper is frequently kept today), and this practice continues in Morocco. Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine.
It was introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. There are several different types of cumin but the most famous ones are black and green cumin which are both used in Persian cuisine.
In India, cumin has been used for millennia as a traditional ingredient of innumerable kormas, masalas, soups, and other spiced gravies.
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