Ground Cumin (pronounced "khu-min"), Cuminum cyminum, is also called cumin powder, cumin spice or cumin seasoning.
Cumin has an essential oil content of between 2.5% to 4.5%.
What is Ground Cumin
Ground cumin is made by grinding whole cumin seeds. Because of its high volatile oil content, it is best to use freshly ground cumin for maximum flavor. We grind cumin several times a week in our facility for peak freshness. We also prefer a slightly coarser grind as the finer the grind the more surface area of the spice is exposed which leads to a quicker degradation of flavor. Cumin is closely related to anise, caraway, coriander, dill and fennel. Native to the Mediterranean regions and northern Africa, cumin is one of the most commonly consumed spices worldwide, right after chiles and pepper. A key spice in Indian, Mexican, and Vietnamese cuisine, it wasn’t until the 1960s, with the rise of Taco Bell, that cumin stated gaining prominence in the United States. Cumin has been cultivated for thousands of years in the Middle East, India, China and the Mediterranean.
History of Cumin
Cumin is mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible as a seasoning for bread and soup and as a currency to pay tithes to priests. The ancient Mesopotamia Yale Culinary Tablets, which date back to 1750 BC and are generally considered the world's oldest collection of recipes, mentions the use of cumin. Cumin was popular during the Medieval period (476-1300) and was one of the most common plants grown in monasteries during that time. King Henry III (England's King from 1216-1272) was a cumin connoisseur and his kitchen staff would buy approximately 20 pounds of cumin at a time to ensure that he was never without his favorite spice.
Spanish colonists are likely responsible for introducing cumin to America. They mostly settled in Florida, the Southwestern and the Pacific Coastal regions of the country. In the 1600s cumin was being grown in what is modern day New Mexico and this region is where cumin became a key ingredient in the area's cuisine, frequently paired with chiles.
Cumin is a drought tolerant, tropical or subtropical crop that grows best in warm, dry climates. Ideal growing conditions are long, hot summers with temperatures between 77° to 86°F and that last 3-4 months. Depending on where it's grown, cumin has a growing season of 100-120 days. The plant produces small white or pink flowers that grow in clusters on short stems, looking like small umbrellas. When the plant starts to wilt, and the seeds have changed colors from dark green to a brownish yellow, the cumin seeds are ready to be harvested. The whole plant is removed from the ground and then laid in thin piles to dry in the sun.
After this first drying process the plant is threshed or beaten with sticks to release the seeds from the plant. The seeds are then separated and winnowed using a traditional winnowing basket that removes the dirt, dust, leaves and twigs. Next, they are either spread out on mats or trays and placed in the sun to dry for a second time or, in more humid growing environments, put in a commercial drier. During this second drying process they will get down to approximately a 10% moisture content.
India has traditionally been the world's leading commercial producer of cumin and with close to 80% of the total output.
Where is Our Cumin From
What does Ground Cumin Taste Like
Ground Cumin has a very distinctive flavor with an earthy, nutty, spicy taste with somewhat bitter undertones and a warm, penetrating aroma with hints of lemon. It is not the same sort of spicy that you would say black pepper or chiles are, but it does have an intensity to it.
Is There a Difference Between Cumin and Ground Cumin
You really don’t cook or use whole Cumin Seed in any dishes. Using ground cumin is what a recipe calls for as in the ground form it more evenly permeates the dish. We recommend buying whole cumin seeds and grounding them fresh right before you use them either with a mortar and pestle or in a “designated for spices only” coffee grinder. And if you really want to maximize the cumin flavor then lightly roast them in a hot skillet before grinding.
What is Ground Cumin Used For
For cooks in the Far East, Latin America, Mexico, the Middle East and North Africa, cumin has long been a signature spice. It is a key ingredient in various spice blends and many bean, couscous, curry, rice, and vegetable dishes. We recommend using cumin sparingly as it is quite potent and can easily overwhelm a dish. Some of our favorite recipes using cumin are Moorish Pork Skewers, Flat Iron Steak, and Chipotle Cumin Gourmet Ketchup.
Cumin flourishes when used with beans, bread, cabbage, pungent cheeses, chicken, eggplant, lamb, lentils, onions, potatoes, rice, sauerkraut and squash.
Cumin works well in combination with other spices like allspice, anise seed, brown mustard, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, turmeric and yellow mustard.
Cumin is one of those spices that doesn't really have a flavor equivalent. In some recipes, if you are looking for a bit of earthiness and don't mind a little extra color, you can substitute it with turmeric. Some people say that caraway seed is a good substitute because of its potency, but it is a very different flavor and might not suit your recipe well. Add these substitutes with caution, tasting often.
|Also Called||Cumin powder, cumin spice or cumin seasoning|
|Recommended Uses||Use with beans, bread, cabbage, pungent cheeses, chicken, eggplant, lamb, lentils, onions, potatoes, rice, sauerkraut and squash|
|Flavor Profile||Earthy, nutty, spicy taste with somewhat bitter undertones and a warm, penetrating aroma with hints of lemon|
|Oil Content||2.5% 4.5%|
|Botanical Name||Cuminum cyminum|
|Cuisine||Africa, Indian, Latin American, Mexican and Vietnamese|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||6-12 Months|
|Country of Origin||India|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Kosher, Non-GMO|
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Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*