Poppy Seeds – Papaver somniferum
Poppy seeds are an oilseed obtained from Papaver somniferum. The tiny kidney-shaped seeds have been harvested from dried seed pods by various civilizations for thousands of years. The seeds are used, whole or ground, as an ingredient in many foods, and they are pressed to yield poppyseed oil.
The seeds are mentioned in ancient medical texts from many civilizations. For instance, the Egyptian papyrus scroll named Ebers Papyrus, written c. 1550 BC, lists poppy seed as a relaxation enhancer. The Minoan civilization(approximately 2700 to 1450 BC), a Bronze Age civilization which arose on the island of Crete, cultivated poppies for their seed, and used a milk, crushed seed, and honey mixture to calm crying babies. The Sumerians are another civilization that are known to have grown poppy seeds. These seeds have long been used as a folk remedy, and even to provide supposed magical powers of invisibility.
The seeds are less than a millimeter in length, kidney-shaped, and have a pitted surface. It takes 3,300 to make up a gram, and between 1 and 2 million seeds to make up a pound. The primary flavor compound is 2-Pentylfuran.
Poppy seeds of superior quality are harvested when they are ripe, after the seed pod has dried. The seeds of other poppy types are not eaten, but they are cultivated for the flowers they produce. Annual and biennial poppies are considered a good choice to cultivate from seed as they are not difficult to propagate by this method, and can be put directly in the ground during January. The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), for example, is a striking orange wildflower that grows in the Western and Northwestern United States.
Country of origin: Holland