Tiny, crunchy seeds that taste earthy, and nutty with slightly bitter undertones; poppy seeds are a chewing adventure.
I absolutely love poppy seeds, mostly because they are fun to chew. Poppy seeds are harvested from the dried pod of the poppy flower. Even though the poppy flower is more commonly associated with opium these days, that wasn’t always so. The seed had a much-venerated place in cuisine from a wide variety of cultures. German bakers have long used them to make desserts and cakes, mostly notably Mohnkuchen (one of my absolute favorites), and they are also a feature in Jewish, Indian, and Asian cuisines. Poppy seeds have a long history in the culinary world with first recorded use coming from Ancient Egypt.
From a culinary perspective, poppy seeds are versatile and can find their way in savory and sweet endeavors. When baking with them I reconstitute them first in honey and milk and then use them as a paste in several different types of baked goods and puddings. They can be tossed dry in soups and stews or salads or even with pasta.
From a health perspective, poppy seeds have a dubious reputation, however, that reputation is really unwarranted. They are highly nutritious little seeds. They are high in minerals like copper, zinc, and calciaum and high in vitamins like B. Poppy seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants and other nutrients like oleic acid. Folk medicine and other indigenous tranditional medicines utilize poppy seeds for a variety or reason. First of all, they make a great nervous system tonic, restoring the ability to sleep well and rest and relax. They are a great expectorant and work to balance the endocrine system. Research suggests that poppy seeds not only taste delicious but also are beneficial for lowering cholesterol, balancing blood sugar, and can have a mild sedative effect.
Just an fyi, poppies lose any of the narcotic properties found in opium once the flower pods and seeds ripen and dry out, so although rumor has it you may test positive on a drug test, you will not actually experience any effects nor will you test positive if a more extensive test is given.