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Poppy Seed

Information for Poppy Seed

Poppy seed is an oil seed taken from the papaver somniferum of the family papveraceae, also commonly known as opium poppy. Native to the Middle East, this is now grown in Afghanistan, China and Indo-China. The poppy seeds are yielded from dried pods and do not contain any narcotic effects that are associated with opium.

Small and shaped like kidneys, these seeds are only about .04" (1 mm) in length and have a somewhat hard shell covering.

It comes in both a blue and white variety, with the blue ones being considered European poppy seeds. However, there is little difference between the flavor of the two and these can be used interchangeably without much difference in taste. Both types carry a mildly sweet aroma that is noticeable after baking or toasting. It also has a pleasant nutty flavor mixed with some sweet and mildly spicy undertones.

Whole poppy seeds are often used as both a spice and decoration due to the color that it adds. These are often sprinkled on various types of breads, cakes and cookies such as bagels, buns, muffins, sponge cake, pretzels and strudels. It compliments honey, fish, pasta, butter, curry, fruit, rice and potatoes. Poppy seeds are also a common ingredient in both Jewish and Middle Eastern cooking.

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