Caraway root breeding

Along with Angelica archangelica, Caraway (Carum carvi) are both biennials, although they sometimes take 3 years or more to flower, after which they die. Both are included in my book on perennial vegetables. Why? Because I’m the author and I get to decide!!  Also, having introduced them both to my garden, they appear to be perennial, always in the same spot – they seed themselves and regenerate. As I relate in the book, Caraway is an amazing plant with a multitude of uses in addition to the seeds used as a spice. In addition the spring greens are edible and traditionally used in a soup here in Norway – karvekaalsuppe. However,   Norwegian botanist Fredrik Christian Schübeler, who wrote a number of popular books on gardening in the mid-19th century, wrote in 1889 that in many places in the Austrian mountains, caraway roots were being grown in places where it wasn’t possible to grow potatoes. When he returned to Oslo, he got seed sent from all over the country and over the next years selected for larger roots and was successful in producing a caraway root  about the same size as Hamburg Parsley. I have found no further information about what happened nor of others that have tried this. It struck me that it would be fun to try to repeat Schubeler’s work. After all, this is an extremely hardy plant and for cold northerly climates carrot seed doesn’t mature. Caraway is much better suited from a self-sufficiency angle!!  It is also easier to grow organically as it seems to be resistent to carrot root fly – carrots are impossible to grow here without protection! Therefore, in 2010 I started my attempt. I obtained seed from 7 accessions, collected in different parts of the country,   including an old variety, Polaris, used in aquavit production. At the weekend I selected the largest roots to take us to the next  stage…

2 thoughts on “Caraway root breeding”

  1. I was watching a tv program on Yellowstone Park (USA) and it was mentioned that carraway, an invasive plant, was providing a food source for bears. The root actively sought by the bears and was said to be similar in size to carots with a high nutritional value.
    TV show was The Great Yellowstone Thaw.
    Have you harvested a carraway root crop? How was it to cultivate? How does it taste? Thank you

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Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden