The scientific name of cumin is Cuminum Cyminum. Cumin is popularly used in food throughout the world. Cumin is found in the same family as parsley. Cumin has a slightly bitter, earthy, and warm flavor used to enhance different foods. An interesting fact about cumin is that it is the second most popular spice after black peppercorn.
Cumin seeds are oblong-shaped and yellowish-brown in color. Different varieties of cumin exist, with the most popular ones being green and black cumin.
Cumin is usually grown for its seeds and can be used ground or whole. Cumin has both culinary and medicinal uses, which explains why it is very popular throughout the world. Cumin is normally used to flavor Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Asian foods.
It is grown for commercial use in West Asia and North Africa. India is the largest producer and consumer of cumin. Cumin is perfect for growing in a mixed vegetable garden. Before producing aromatic cumin seeds, predator insects are attracted to its flowers and help control pests.
There are three main types of cumin seeds. They are black, brown and white. They all provide different flavors, with brown and black being the most commonly used in dishes. Brown cumin is used in Indian-style dishes. The black cumin has a sweeter flavor and aroma compared to the white one.
Process of Growing Cumin
The seeds should be planted 5mm(0.25”) deep. Sow the seeds in a potting mix and ensure the soil is kept moist, misting regularly till sprouts appear. They should be transplanted at a spacing of 10cm(4”).
Cumin usually needs long hot seasons to produce seeds and is not frost tolerant.
If you live in colder areas, cumins should be planted indoors for four to eight weeks before the last frost date. Cumin grown indoors should be placed near a window facing the sun as they need direct sunshine for most of the day. This ensures the cumin plants are getting enough sunshine even though they are grown indoors.
They are then transplanted outside when temperatures get above 60°F. The ideal germination temperature is between 68-86°F. The seeds normally sprout in 7 to 14 days. You are recommended to soak cumin seeds for around 8 hours before sowing to ensure better germination rates. Germination begins when the seeds are soaked.
In warmer temperatures, where you have at least four months free of frost weather, you can sow the cumin seeds directly outside. This eliminates transplant shock risk.
Cumin is not grown in home gardens or sold in nurseries because it is grown for its seed rather than its foliage. Even though cumin is a drought-tolerant plant, it can also do well in areas with frequent rainfall as long as the soil drains well.
The seeds need around 120 days to mature from the planting date to produce usable seeds. Cumin produces flowers that are very irresistible to beneficial garden insect predators. Flowering usually begins around summer.
The cumin branch has around three sub-branches that normally grow to the same height, making the plant a uniform canopy. The stems are normally green or grey. The leaves of the cumin plant are pinnate or bipinnate with lengths of around 2-4 inches, and they have leaflets like threads.
Cumin benefits from being planted in clumps and being a little overcrowded. Cumin grows up to 2 feet tall, and it produces umbels of fragrant white or pink flowers, which can be added to salads. Cumin does well in both damp conditions and hot weather. Cumin plants are prone to frosting during fall and spring.
Cumin thrives in areas with low humidity. High humid areas make the cumin plants prone to fungal diseases.
Cumin is harvested by hand. The seeds are harvested when they are brown. The cumin seeds closely resemble the caraway seeds. Similar to many other herbs, cumin should be harvested in the morning when it is at its height. Because the pods don’t all dry at once, the trick to harvesting them is harvesting the pods when the first ones are about to spill their seeds.
When harvesting, cut the cumin seed heads and leave them indoors to dry as much as possible or as soon as seeds fall from the seed heads. You could also rub them to remove the seeds once they are dry. You can cut and hang the stem upside down into a bag to collect the seeds.
Once harvested, you can leave your cumin seed out in the sun to dry then you can separate the seed from the pods. You can thrash the stems against a hard surface or roll the pods between your fingers. Gently winnow any debris, dirt, or chaff from the remaining seeds before storing them.
The harvesting process should be done quickly to avoid the speed pods from opening up, especially if you don’t want to lose your produce.
Fresh leaves can be harvested from mature plants to flavor soups or as a herb garnish in stews and soups. Store the leaves in a refrigerator for a few days once harvested.
Store cumin seeds whole in airtight containers. The cumin seeds have a seed life of up to 2 years when properly stored. Cumin seeds can be grounded into fine powder or used whole. It is important to note that aroma and freshness deteriorate quickly when cumin seeds are grounded.
To retain the aroma and freshness of the cumin seeds, store the seeds whole and toast them gently before grinding. Don’t keep the cumin for too long.
Cumin seeds have a seed life of 2 years.
You can plant your cumin in hydroponics, containers, or outside.
Preferred pH Range
Cumin should be grown in an area with a pH of between 6.8(Mildly acidic) and 8.3(Alkaline). The ideal pH range for growing cumin is between 7.0 and 7.5.
Number of cumin seeds per gram
There are around 30 cumin seeds per gram.
Ideal Soil for Cumin
Cumin thrives in well-drained loamy soil to fertile sandy loam. It can also grow in different types of soil. Cumin should be planted in fertile soil that drains fast. The garden soil should be amended with plenty of compost manure to improve drainage and fertility.
Lighting and Sun Requirements for Growing Cumin
Some of the lighting and sun requirements for growing cumin seeds include:
Water and Humidity
It would be best to water your cumin seeds regularly, at least 1 to 3 times a week but make sure that you don’t overwater them. Allow the soil to dry between waterings, then water properly.
Add light mulches like straw, shredded leaves, or grass clippings. These will help maintain the levels of moisture during hot weather.
You can mist your cumin plants to provide encompassing humidity without the risk of root rot. It is recommended you water using a watering can or hand water using a can and keep it light when the seed heads and flowers begin turning brown. You can mist your plants at least once a week by spaying the roots, tips, and stalks.
Note that cumin planted in containers will require more watering than those growing from the ground. Ensure that you don’t overwater your plants at any given time so that they don't get root rot or mildew. Other than watering, cumin plants are considered very low maintenance plants.
You can add organic soil conditioner yearly before sowing. You should also feed the cumin plants with balanced organic liquid fertilizers as soon as the flowering stems start developing. Avoid using fertilizers that are high in nitrogen as they will reduce the aroma and fragrance of the harvested seed. Natural compost tea should be used to fertilize cumin plants during the growing season.
Since cumin is an annual plant that is grown for its seeds, it doesn’t require pruning. Diseased and damaged leaves should be removed to prevent the problems from spreading to the undamaged leaves.
If you want mature cumin seed, ensure that you leave the flower heads on the plant. Once you have harvested the seed pods, the plant remains should be composted.
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Potential Plant Diseases and Pests
Cumin plants are prone to aphids, cutworms, and thrips. They can also be prone to root rot if kept too wet. Some of the diseases cumin are prone to include fusarium wilt that causes the leaves to wilt and turn yellow, powdery mildew that appears as a whitish deposit on top of the leaves, and Alternaria blight during the flowering season when the conditions are too humid.
Cumin attracts beneficial insects to the garden. Predatory wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings flock to cumin flowers, and they eat caterpillars or insects that might bother the garden.
You can use natural remedies to eliminate aphids, like placing garlic or onion around your cumin plants. You could also spray them with a garden hose. You could also mix around five drops of thyme, clove, peppermint, and rosemary essential oils into a spray bottle filled with water, then spray the cumin plants thoroughly.
Nutritional Value of Cumin
A single tablespoon of cumin seeds contains 1.07g of protein, 2.56g of carbohydrates with 0.14g of sugar and 0.6g of fiber, and 22 calories. The single tablespoon also provides 5.60% of calcium, 0.25% of vitamin K, 0.56% of vitamin C, and 49.75% iron.
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Health Benefits of Cumin
Some of the health benefits of cumin include:
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Culinary Uses of Cumin
Some of the culinary uses of cumin include:
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Fun Facts about Cumin
Some interesting fun facts of cumin include:
Some of the flavors that go well with cumin are thyme, red pepper, turmeric, oregano, and cinnamon. When you want to grow cumin, some things to note are that each plant produces a small number of seeds. You will need to know how much space you will need to produce an adequate crop if you wish to grow large quantities of cumin. It is important to note that cumin is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.