Ground cumin is made by drying and grounding the seeds of the flowering plant cumin. There are different varieties of cumin. One is from Iran, and the other one is from India. There is also a variety of cumin from the Middle East. These three are the most common cumin varieties in the market today.
Ground Cumin Trivia
- Jeffrey M. Pilcher, in the book Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, explained that there are several condiments commonly available to frontier cooks in Texas, among them cumin, which Pilcher described as “naturalized to Texas.”
- The cumin plant is a member of the parsley family.
- Cumin is also known by many other different names like Anis Âcre, Comino, Cumin de Malte, Cuminum cyminum, Cuminum odorum, Cummin, Green Cumin, Jeeraka, Svetajiraka, and Zira.
- Cumin makes food delicious but it may not be a great idea to talk about how cumin was used for mummification in ancient Egypt while eating food flavored with cumin. Tonia Buxton, in the book The Secret Recipes, wrote: “One of the earliest uses of cumin is reported to have been in the mummification of the Egyptian Pharaohs.”
- Archeological findings prove that cumin has been around for quite some time. According to the book Culinary Herbs and Spices: A Global Guide, “Cumin seeds were excavated in Syria at the Tell ed-Der site, and cumin dates back to the second millennium BCE.”
Ground Cumin Buying Guide
You can buy ground cumin in the spice aisle of supermarkets and groceries.
You might see “cumin powder” instead of “ground cumin” – don’t worry, these two terms are used interchangeably. Ground cumin and cumin powder are the same.
Species: C. cyminum
Binomial name: Cuminum cyminum
Buy enough for what you need at home. There’s a 1/2 cup glass jar of ground cumin or if you need more, you can buy a gallon, even a 5-pound bulk bag, which is best if you have a restaurant or catering business and use ground cumin in many of your dishes.
For people with certain preferences, there are garlic powder brands that are non-GMO, gluten-free, and non-irradiated.
Ground cumin may be irradiated or not. Irradiation is a food safety process. It kills pathogens that cause food poisoning, mold spores and bacteria causing fast food spoilage, and insects. Irradiation of spices like ground cumin is done through any one of the following methods: gamma rays, high-energy X rays, and high-energy electrons. Irradiated food is not radioactive. The choice is yours on which one you prefer.
Besides ground cumin, whole cumin seeds are also sold in the market and used in cooking. If you have a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, you can use whole cumin seeds to make ground cumin.
Ground Cumin Production & Farming in Texas
There is no full-scale commercial production of ground cumin in Texas. But there are businesses in Texas that sell ground cumin.
Cumin is adaptable to USDA Hardiness Zones 5-10. The hardiness zone spectrum covering Texas ranges from 6 to 9B. This means cumin can grow in Texas. Cumin can be grown outdoors in Texas during the spring.
The cumin is a short plant, growing approximately 6 inches high. It has pink or white flowers. Cumin seeds have a short shelf life, which is why storing cumin seeds for planting can be tricky. Before sowing the seeds, it is recommended to soak these in water for 24 to 36 hours to remove the germination-inhibiting chemicals found in the seeds, helping the seed to sprout faster and improving the chances of the seed sprouting. Plant it on loose soil and place it where it can receive enough sunlight. Keep the plant weed-free.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
While there are companies that sell pure ground cumin, it is also possible to find a bottle of ground cumin that contains additives, like maltodextrin (a starchy white filler), flakes of dioxide, potassium acetamide, sunflower oil, parsley, anti-caking agents, artificial coloring, Monosodium Glutamate or MSG, and other types of sulfites.
Ground cumin may also be subjected to ethyl oxide fumigation (also known as EtO Treatment).
When buying ground cumin, read the label and make sure it is not made using peanut protein. There has been a case of ground cumin recall because peanut allergen was not declared on the label even if the ground cumin tested positive for peanut protein.
Cumin is already a spice many years ago, as far back as the ancient Middle East and Egypt. Indians used it, as well as the Greeks and Romans. It made its way to South America as a result of the colonial activities of Spain and Portugal.
Today, cumin is a common fixture in stores selling spices. India is a major producer of cumin, as well as other regions and countries like Syria, Turkey, UAE, Iran, Northern Africa, Mexico, Chile, and China.
Ground cumin is sold everywhere in Texas. H-E-B, an American privately held supermarket chain based in San Antonio, Texas, sells ground cumin. Walmart in Bentonville and Bolner’s Fiesta Products, Inc. in San Antonio also have ground cumin.
You can also buy at Joe V’s Smart Shop. It has stores in Houston, Pasadena, and Baytown, or visit Central Market, which sells in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Plano, San Antonio, and Southlake.
Ground cumin is sold in plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, or glass bottles with a lid that serve the purpose of storage as well as a dispenser. The packaging includes cap shrink wrap for product safety and a label to make sure consumers are provided with the information they need, like ingredients, nutritional information, batch number, location of production and manufacturing, etc. You can also find ground cumin sold in plastic refill packs, single-use packets, or pouches, as well as in a resealable, moisture-proof aluminum-lined stand-up plastic or paper bag with a valve zipper.
Enjoying Ground Cumin
Cumin is seen as the savory alternative to cinnamon. Using ground cumin on food means adding the spice’s slightly sweet, nutty, earthy, and warm flavor to the taste of the dish.
If the food you are eating is from Latin American, Middle Eastern, North African, or Indian cuisine, it is highly likely that it is flavored with cumin.
When cooking or eating, always be careful with cumin. There are people who have an allergic reaction to cumin and the signs you should be on the lookout for (for yourself or your companion) include an itchy and tingly feeling in the mouth, throat, and lips with swelling on either the throat or lips; sneezing and runny nose, and itchy and watery eyes. Seek immediate medical help if an allergic reaction to cumin (or other forms of allergies) has been detected.
If you are managing a bleeding disorder, do not consume food with cumin because cumin can slow blood clotting. This is important especially if the person is due for surgery in the next few days.
Store ground cumin in a cool, dry place. The kitchen pantry is ideal. If you have a spice rack or spice cabinet, keep your ground cumin there. Put it in a container with a lid and always keep the lid closed.
Unlike whole cumin seeds, ground cumin starts to lose its flavor fast. After six months, don’t expect to get much flavor from your stock of ground cumin. Best to throw it away and replace it with fresh ground cumin.
Cumin is used in meat and vegetable dishes; barbecues, baked beans, curries, soups, stews, chili, jeera rice, and falafel, for example. It is also a common marinade ingredient and is used in making spice blends. Cumin is important in making garam masala (a blend of spices from India) and taco seasoning.
It is great to use alongside other spices like curry powder and chili flakes.
Cumin can help prevent cancer, help control cholesterol levels, help manage diabetes, help improve digestion, and help sustain and maintain weight loss for people who are on a diet.
- antibacterial properties
- vitamin A
- vitamin B
- vitamin E