Monday, 3 December 2012

Little Black Poppy Seeds

Poppies are such beautiful flowers, they like to volunteer in gardens so often they are considered a garden weed!  But  if you had a lovely poppy flower crop this summer, I hope you let them dry on their stems! Watching the flower bloom, loose its petals to the wind, and then seeing the dried crowned poppy heads on their long stem - just makes it easy to get poppy seeds! It's an example of nature's beauty once, and then once again, and then once again!

The poppy is a biennial herb of the Mediterranean and Asia Minor regions just south of Ukraine. Poppy seed is an oilseed that comes from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Actually, historical records assert that use of poppy seeds may be more than a 6,000 year tradition. It is mentioned in ancient medical texts as a sedative and a folk remedy to aid sleeping, promote fertility and wealth and even provide magical powers of invisibility.

The poppy seed itself is less than a millimeter in length, so it takes over 3 thousand seeds to make a gram and 1-2 million seeds to make a pound. Clearly, harvesting is meticulous work! Poppy seeds taste nutty and pleasant - they are nutritious and entirely free from the side effects of other poppy plant products. The color of dried poppy seeds depends on their area of harvest. The blue seeds come from Holland stock. The gray and white are used as thickeners and the most common - the black seeds is used in a variety of baking - pastries and the such. Poppy seeds are used as a spice, a condiment, a garnish, a thickener and a main course. It is really very versatile!

And in the culinary traditions of Ukrainians poppy seeds are used, and have so much meaning - more to come.


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