Poppy Seeds are tiny nutty-tasting, blue-gray seeds inside capsules on Papaver somniferum, a yellowish-brown opium plant indigenous to the Mediterranean.
Poppies are native to Mediterranean regions. Today, Holland Australia and the Czech Repblic are the main producers of poppy seeds.
Traditional Ethnic Uses
Poppy Seeds are used to flavor breads, cakes, rolls, and cookies in European and Middle Eastern cooking. In Turkey, they are often ground and used in desserts. In India, the seeds are ground and used to thicken sauces. The seeds are also used in noodle, fish, and vegetable dishes in Jewish, German, and Slavic cooking.
Taste and Aroma Description
Poppy Seeds have a slightly nutty aroma and taste.
History/Region of Origin
Since antiquity, poppies have symbolized honor. Women in second century Crete cultivated poppy plants for opium and Hippocrates suggested opium in medicine. Islamic and Arabian countries used opium as a medicine and narcotic in the sixth century. By the 17th century, Asians used the poppy plant as an opiate. Europeans began trafficking the drug in the 19th century, culminating in the Opium Wars, in which China lost control of the industry. The Greeks used the seeds as flavoring for breads in the second century, and medieval Europeans used them as a condiment with breads.
Store in cool, dark, dry places.
A Few Ideas to Get You Started
Poppy Seeds are a classic addition to buttered egg noodles, fruit salad dressings, and fragrant yeast breads. Poppy Seeds add nutty flavor and texture to cookies, cakes, breads, strudels, pastry crusts, and pancake and waffle batters.