Why Add Poppy Seeds?

By Kirsten | May 1st, 2020

The World Loves Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds are popular around the world, where they are enjoyed in both sweet and savory recipes. They are especially popular in  Eastern Europe, where poppy flowers (Papaver Somniferum) are native and the seeds are considered a symbol of wealth. You will find them featured prominently in traditional Eastern European dishes. They are also very popular in India, where they are commonly ground into a paste to thicken curries, and combined with other nuts and spices to infuse a sweet milk beverage. In Western Europe, poppy seeds are soaked and then ground to produce a filling for cakes and strudels. Here in the United States, poppy seeds are often paired with lemon to produce moist and flavorful cakes and muffins.

Why Add Poppy Seeds to Your Recipe?

Poppy seeds have a floral, earthy, and nutty flavor. And, they are so versatile! Small, blue-grey, and kidney-shaped, poppy seeds have a wide range of uses in both sweet and savory recipes. They can be used raw, toasted, soaked, or ground. The more I cook and bake with poppy seeds, the more I love them.

Sweet and Savory!

Poppy seeds can be found in both sweet and savory baked goods. Their distinctive flavor and crunchy texture pair nicely with lemon, honey, raisins, and almonds. They also add visual interest when added to cakes, muffins, quick breads, and pastries. Sometimes they are soaked, ground, and then combined with sweetened condensed milk to make a delicious filling for pastries.

I like using poppy seeds in a creamy dressing made with honey, yogurt, and lemon juice to dress fruit salad. They add a nice light crunch to the mix.

Poppy seeds are frequently combined with sesame seeds and garlic to top bagels, breadsticks, and dinner rolls. They are also often paired with caramelized onions as a filling for savory breads and rolls.

Health Benefits of Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds are rich in magnesium, calcium, and fiber. They are also naturally rich in fatty acids and essential oils. Be warned, natural oils can spoil over time, so it’s important to store your poppy seeds in a cool, dry place. I keep mine in the freezer.

There are so many reasons to add poppy seeds to a recipe. What’s yours?

Happy Cooking!

Kristen is a professional chef living, working, and playing in Washington, D.C.

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