Poppy Seeds – Interesting Facts

Poppy seeds contain morphine, which is a main component of many drugs. Poppy seeds from the supermarket are harmless, only the spicy and nutty flavour of the poppy seeds may be addictive. For some types the morphine has even been bred out of the seed completely. With their low calorie, but high magnesium, iron and calcium content, poppy seeds are very healthy.

All in all, there are over 100 different types of poppy, which each have different colour seeds ranging from blue (or black), to grey or white. There are also differences in taste – blue poppy seeds are spicy, grey poppy seeds are milder and white poppy seeds are the nuttiest. White poppy seeds are frequently used in Indian cooking, ground up and used as flavouring in curries. White poppy seeds are also available in Europe, but the darker types are more widespread and predominantly used in sweet dishes.

Food Facts Food Facts

Poppy Seeds

Class

papaver

Calories

520 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

4.3g carbohydrate, 20g fibre, 42.7g fat, 19.5g protein per 100g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store the whole seeds in a sealed container in a cool, dark place; freeze ground poppy seeds

Shelf life

whole seeds last a couple of months if stored correctly

Poppy Seeds – Origin and Uses

Poppy is one of the oldest crops around. There is evidence to show that it was already cultivated and used during antiquity. Originally poppy is from the Near East, but is also grown in Turkey, Austria and even Australia nowadays. Red poppy can frequently be found as a wild flower, but it is not used to produce edible poppy seeds. Garden or opium poppies are cultivated specifically for this purpose and usually have white-purple or crimson-black petals.

Poppy seed is best bought whole and then ground up as needed shortly before use, as the high fat content means it spoils quickly. On the other hand, the high fat content also makes poppy seeds ideal for making oil. Poppy seed oil can be used in salad dressings or to garnish other cold meals. It should not be heated above 150°C and its distinctive taste makes it ideal to refine many dishes.

Poppy – Cooking and Baking

Baked goods with poppy seeds like bread rolls or poppy cake are especially popular. Poppy cake is usually made using a paste of pre-ground poppy seeds, which can be found in the baking section of your supermarket, and can also be used for quark cake, fruity pear cake or for a fresh Hefezopf, a plaited yeast bun. If you are looking for more inspiration on how to use poppy in sweet recipes, look no further than the Austrian cuisine, where poppy seeds are sprinkled over yeast dumplings, as seasoning for strudel or as a pancake topping.

Of course, poppy seeds can also be used in savoury meals. The flavour lends itself well to the vinaigrette for a chicory, green asparagus, grapefruit and prawn salad. Simply toast poppy seeds in a pan and add to a mixture of honey, mustard, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper while still hot. Mix well and then drizzle over the salad. Poppy seeds can also be used for an interesting spin on breadcrumb coating for fish or added to lemon sauce and served with tagliatelle.

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