Tiny seeds derived from the poppy plant. Poppy seeds must be crushed to allow the fat to be released and the flavor to be developed. Crushed or ground poppy seeds are used as a filing or topping for cakes, pastries and pies, while whole poppy seeds are sprinkled on braids and rolls.
Poppy seeds are like tiny hard grains. The Western type is slate blue; the Indian type, off-white, both are kidney-shaped, the blue seeds average 1mm (.O4in) in length, while the white seeds are somewhat smaller.
It smells mild and sweet when roasted or baked. It has little taste until heated when it obtains a nutty, spicy-sweet flavor.
Selecting and Buying
Find a sunny location to plant your poppy seeds. Choose a place where you want the flowers to grow because poppies do not transplant well.
Prepare the soil. You can either dig the ground with a garden fork or use a tiller, and remove any sticks or rocks that you find in the soil. Allow the ground to settle for two days or more.
Water the soil before planting the seeds. You need to have moist soil for the seeds to germinate.
Mix the poppy seeds with some sand in a small bowl. This will help you to sow the seed evenly over the top of the soil. The plants do not grow well if they are too close together.
Cover the seeds with a little bit of dry soil. Do not bury the seeds more than a quarter-inch below the surface, or they will not germinate.
Water the soil gently. Use the mister setting of your nozzle; spraying the ground any harder than that will push the seeds deeper into the soil.
Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate and the poppy plants are growing. After that, you can cut back on the watering.
Preparation and Use
Poppy seed is very hard to grind. If you do not have a special poppy seed grinder, first lightly roast the seeds and use a pestle and mortar. They can be used either whole or crushed in cooking and bakery. When using them with uncooked food, such as salads, roast them lightly first, as this strengthens their flavour and aroma. When poppy seeds are used for pastries, they are covered with boiling water and allowed to stand for one to three hours before grinding.
Conserving and Storing
Poppy seeds are delicious and the exotic species of this spice are more interesting that the plain white ones that are readily available in the United States. You can purchase real poppy seeds at many specialty stores for cooking and baking. You may wish to purchase only the amount that you need for your project. However, if this is not an option, or you decide to buy in bulk, you will have to take steps to store your poppy seeds correctly. Poppy seeds are high in oil content and therefore go rancid quickly if they are not properly cared for.
Check the date on any poppy seeds you purchase to make sure that they are not close to expiring. Ask your grocer how long the seeds have been on the shelf, and do not purchase any that were not turned over within the last 2 weeks.
Transfer your poppy seeds into an airtight container.
Store your airtight container of poppy seeds in the refrigerator (they will keep for 3-6 months) or in the freezer (they will keep for up to 1 year). Choose a freezer with a fan ventilation system, if possible.