Buns, cakes, strudels, donuts or noodles.
What do they have in common? Poppy.
In our kitchen, these small blue-black seeds have a very special position.
They are part of many different types of dough, but not only them.
What positive effects does their consumption have on our health?
Did you know that the Czech Republic is the largest poppy producer in the world?
Let’s take a closer look at this interesting crop.
Types of poppy
Humanity has been consuming various types of seeds and seeds for millennia. In addition, many of them are currently considered an important part of a healthy diet. For food purposes, the seed poppy or papaver somniferum is the most cultivated, but there are many more diverse species and varieties.
- Sown poppy (for food) – edible seeds of various colors, typically blue or blue-black, the Czech blue poppy variety is the most cultivated in the Czech Republic. It was specially bred to have a very low alkaloid content and its taste is so pleasantly sweet. But there are also varieties with white seeds.
- Technical (industrial) poppy – grown mainly for pharmacological purposes. It is used to extract alkaloids, especially morphine and codeine. The seeds of the technical poppy are usually brown or gray and their taste is woody to hot.
- Opium poppy – grown mainly in Asia for the illegal production of opium
- Poppy – a free-growing species with typical red flowers, which is also a symbol of veterans
In shops, we can buy poppy in two different forms – whole poppy and ground poppy.
These are whole undisturbed poppy seeds. These can be used as they are, for example, to sprinkle on home-baked pastries. The advantage of the whole poppy is that it has a longer shelf life and at the same time retains its aroma and taste for longer. If necessary, it can be simply ground with a grinder before use. Some nutrients are better absorbed into the body from ground poppy seeds.
Ground poppy seeds
Freshly ground poppy seeds, which we obtain from home-ground seeds, are much more aromatic and tastier than packaged ground poppy seeds bought in a store, the advantage of which is mainly the ease and speed of use.
Unfortunately, ground poppy seeds deteriorate relatively quickly, so they are not suitable for long-term storage. For this reason, manufacturers often treat packaged ground poppy seeds with a thermostabilization process. The latter does extend the shelf life, as it prevents it from going rancid, but at the same time it has a negative effect on the aroma and taste.
Poppy is used for culinary purposes all over the world, it can be consumed both raw and heat-treated. However, its use varies slightly territorially. It is very popular in all Slavic countries, as well as in Germany, Austria and Hungary, where it is used as a filling for buns, strudels, strudels, cakes and other products.
It is actually an alternative to other fillings, such as cottage cheese, jam or marmalade. Poppy seeds can also be used together with sugar and butter as a topping for sweet dishes such as fruit dumplings.
In other European countries and North America, poppy seeds are mainly used as a sprinkle on baked goods. In the US, it is usually combined with lemon in sweet baked goods such as muffins, and is also used in savory preparations such as salad dressings and bagel toppings.
Whole poppy seeds should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place in airtight containers. This way it stays fresh for up to six months. Freshly ground poppy seeds are best consumed immediately, or if necessary, they can be stored in the refrigerator for three days or frozen, which will keep them for several months.
What does poppy contain?
Poppy is not only very tasty, but also interesting in terms of its nutritional composition. Its largest proportion consists of fats, with a very favorable proportion of unsaturated fatty acids. It also contains a lot of protein, fiber and a wide range of vitamins, especially group B. Among the minerals, it stands out in particular for its high content of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and iron.
Nutritional values of poppy seeds
It is interesting to compare poppy with other frequently consumed types of seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame or chia.
| Sunflower seeds|
| Pumpkin seeds|
| Sesame seeds|
| Flax seeds|
|Chia seeds 100 g|
|Energy||525 calories||582 calories||559 calories||573 calories||534 calories||486 calories|
|Water||5.95 g||1.2 g||5.23 g||4.69 g||6.96 g||5.8 g|
|Carbohydrates||28.1 g||24.1 g||10.7 g||23.4 g||28.9 g||42.1 g|
|Proteins||18 g||19.3 g||30.2 g||17.7 g||18.3 g||16.5 g|
|Fats||41.6 g||49.8 g||49 g||49.7 g||42.2 g||30.7 g|
|Fiber||19.5 g||11.1 g||6 g||11.8 g||27.3 g||34.4 g|
Vitamins and minerals
| Sunflower seeds|
| Pumpkin seeds|
| Sesame seeds|
| Flax seeds|
|Chia seeds 100 g|
|Vitamin B1||0.854 mg||0.106 mg||0.273 mg||0.791 mg||1.64 mg||0.62 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.1 mg||0.246 mg||0.153 mg||0.247 mg||0.161 mg||0.17 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.896 mg||7.04 mg||4.99 mg||4.52 mg||3.08 mg||8.83 mg|
|Vitamin B5||0.324 mg||7.04 mg||0.75 mg||0.05 mg||0.985 mg||–|
|Vitamin B6||0.247 mg||0.814 mg||0.143 mg||0.79 mg||0.473 mg||–|
|Vitamin C||1 mg||1.4 mg||1.9 mg||–||0.6 mg||1.6 mg|
|Potassium||719 mg||850 mg||809 mg||468 mg||813 mg||407 mg|
|Phosphorus||870 mg||1160 mg||1230 mg||629 mg||642 mg||860 mg|
|Magnesium||347 mg||129 mg||592 mg||351 mg||392 mg||335 mg|
|Manganese||6.71 mg||2.11 mg||4.54 mg||2.46 mg||2.48 mg||2.72 mg|
|Calcium||1440 mg||70 mg||46 mg||975 mg||255 mg||631 mg|
|Zinc||7.9 mg||5.29 mg||7.81 mg||7.75 mg||4.34 mg||4.58 mg|
|Iron||9.96 mg||3.8 mg||8.82 mg||14.6 mg||5.73 mg||7.72 mg|
Poppy and health
Poppy seeds contain unique chemical compounds of plant origin that have antioxidant, preventive and generally health-promoting properties. How do the little blue-black seeds affect our health?
- Cardiovascular disease – poppy seeds are rich in fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic acids. Oleic acid helps lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in the blood. This helps prevent a number of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack or stroke. In addition, it is also rich in magnesium and potassium, which have a positive effect on high blood pressure.
- Digestive system – poppy seeds are a great source of fiber, which benefits digestion by promoting bowel movement, increasing the number of healthy bacteria and relieving some digestive problems, such as constipation. In addition, fiber binds to bile salts, a product of cholesterol, and reduces their reabsorption in the colon.
- Insomnia – the high magnesium content helps to improve the quality and length of sleep. In addition, the substances contained in the poppy have a beneficial effect on the regulation of metabolism, which also promotes sleep. In case of problems falling asleep, our grandmothers often recommended drinking a cup of warm milk with honey and poppy seeds.
- Skin problems – essential acids and minerals and B group vitamins are effective helpers in the fight against a number of skin problems, including eczema, they also benefit the health of hair and nails. Poppy can also be used as a natural exfoliant to remove dead skin cells.
Nausea after poppy seeds
Nausea after eating poppy seeds can occur in two cases. The first case is related to poor poppy storage, when the oil that the seeds contain rancid. The second cause can be excessive consumption of technical poppy. Its seeds are not originally intended for consumption, they are actually waste, but sometimes, unfortunately, they end up on store shelves.
Poppy as a drug
Poppy is used not only in the food industry, but also in the pharmaceutical industry. From this point of view, the poppy is seen as a medicinal plant. The calming and soothing effects of unripe poppy seeds have been used in folk medicine since time immemorial.
The unripe poppy contains alkaloids, mainly morphine, codeine, thebaine and papaverine, which are mainly found in the so-called poppies, poppy seeds and the upper part of the stem. Makovina is also used in the pharmaceutical industry.
The most important alkaloid is morphine. It is mainly used to reduce severe pain associated with post-operative conditions or cancer. Another is codeine, which has similar but weaker effects and is found in cough drops. Papaverine is used in smooth muscle relaxants.
Opium refers to the dried sticky juice obtained from unripe poppies of certain types of poppies. This juice contains a high proportion of various alkaloids, such as morphine, codeine or thebaine, which are referred to collectively as opiates.
In the past, opium was often smoked, either alone or in combination with tobacco or hashish. Today, it is partly used by the pharmaceutical industry, but a significant part ends up in illegal laboratories, where heroin is made from it.
Poppy seeds have very versatile uses in the kitchen, but they are mostly used to prepare a wide variety of pastries and other sweet dishes. Their flavor is enhanced by roasting them in a pan at moderate heat. Gentle frying releases aromatic essential oils in the seeds and increases their crunchiness.
Most often, poppy seeds are used to prepare a variety of pastries and desserts, which can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack or served as a snack or coffee. Most pastries contain poppy seeds in the form of a poppy seed filling . There are many variants, for example enriched with raisins, nuts, coconut, vanilla or lemon. The basic recipe usually contains freshly ground poppy seeds, sugar, milk and also a small amount of rum and cinnamon.
The most popular poppy seed cakes are those made from yeast dough. Poppy pies are prepared either alone or in combination with plums, which is absolutely irresistible. In addition to pies, you certainly remember poppy seed buns not only from fairy tales. The third poppy seed classic is strudel, which can be prepared not only from leavened, but also unleavened or puff pastry.
Another popular dessert, for example with tea or coffee, is poppy seeds . It is usually a very simple, uniform bun, in which, depending on personal preferences, poppy seeds can be used whole or ground. Similarly, blue-black seeds can also be added to brownie recipes. You can make the Christmas holidays healthier and more interesting with the help of poppy seed cookies , which can be prepared in a variety of baked and unbaked versions.
Not only children, but also many adults have a weakness for sweet foods. We cannot imagine many of them without poppy seeds. Foreigners often find this use of poppy a little strange, but we do not allow these classic delicacies of our kitchen. When you think of sweet pasta, classic noodles with poppy seeds are among the first to come to mind.
But that’s not all, the combination of poppy seeds and potatoes is also very tasty. Its result is mainly poppy seeds or cones. Another unique feature of Czech cuisine are various fruit dumplings. Plum dumplings go best with poppy seeds , they can be made from potato, cottage cheese and yeast dough.
Poppy in Asian cuisine
In India and Pakistan, ground poppy seeds are often cooked with potatoes or squash, or eaten as a paste with chopped onions, chili peppers, mustard oil, and rice. Another delicacy is Posto Bora, or fried poppy seed paste. It is prepared from ground poppy seeds seasoned with seasoned onions, chili peppers, mustard oil and a little salt, then their mixture is fried.
I also use poppy seeds in Indian cuisine as a thickener, often added to curries, dips or sweet dishes. An interesting delicacy is Pudachi Wadi, which is a mixture of poppy seeds, desiccated coconut, onion and coriander, which is then stuffed into a gram flour wrapper.
Although we most often think of poppy seeds in their whole or ground form, this is not their only use. They are also used for the production of several other products.
Poppy milk is especially sought after by vegetarians and vegans as a very tasty plant-based alternative to classic milk, because poppy seeds are very rich in calcium. The production process is very simple. Just mix the poppy with water and leave it to infuse for approximately 24 hours. Then mix the mixture thoroughly in a blender. You can also flavor it with maple syrup or vanilla. After mixing, filter the liquid through cheesecloth.
Poppy seed oil is produced by pressing poppy seeds, has a light yellow color and a nutty aroma. In addition to food purposes, in this case it is a cold-pressed oil, it is also used for painting, for the production of oil paints and is also added to varnishes or core soaps. Poppy seed oil can also be applied to the skin, leaving it soft and hydrated.
Cultivation and attractions
Poppy is an annual herb of Mediterranean and Asia Minor origin belonging to the poppy family. Its Latin name is papaver somniferum. It requires plenty of sunlight and fertile soil to grow.
Depending on the variety, white, red, violet or blue flowers appear on long stalks in the spring, which then turn into spherical or oval poppies. The poppies measure an average of 4-6 cm in length and 3-4 cm in width and contain a number of small seeds that rattle when shaken inside the dry poppies.
Poppy seeds can also be different colors, depending on the variety. In Czech conditions, the Czech blue poppy was specially bred, which has a very low alkaloid content and is therefore suitable for food use.
The first evidence of poppy was found in the Mediterranean where it was used as a mild sedative as early as 2700 BC. In medieval Europe, different varieties of poppies were grown as ornamental flowers.
Poppy is currently grown in several dozen countries, some of them illegally. In many countries, it is not used for food purposes, but for the pharmaceutical industry. The largest poppy producer is the Czech Republic, followed by Turkey and Spain. By the way, poppy is not consumed in Turkey itself, the white poppy grown here is intended for export to India.
The Czech Republic poppy has been grown on the territory since time immemorial, the record of the oldest finding of poppy on our territory is from Ostrov u Stříbra from the late Bronze Age, approximately 800 years BC We can also find evidence of the importance of the poppy in our territory in the Czech language.
The word poppy gave rise to a number of proper names, for example Makovský or Makalouš, as well as local names such as Makov, Makotřasy, Makolusky. Poppy motifs also often appear in folk art, songs and fairy tales. Interestingly, the poppy also appears in one of the first songs our young children learn – Čižečka, čižečka.
Little bird, little bird, little bird,
tell me little girl, how do they sow poppies?
Anyway, so they sow poppies, anyway, so they sow poppies,
anyway, so they sow poppies, so they sow poppies.
The Czech Republic produces an average of 23,000 tons of poppy seeds per year. Of this, around 4,500 tons are consumed in our country. The annual consumption of poppy seeds per inhabitant thus amounts to approximately 430 grams, which is most likely the highest consumption on a global scale.
Poppy flower as a symbol
The red poppy flower is a universally accepted symbol of respect and remembrance for those who died in the First World War. This meaning of poppy is said to have arisen because the poppies, which are hardy yet fragile, were a common part of the landscape on the Western Front during the Great War.
In his famous poem “In the Fields of Flanders,” Major John McCrae wrote of this beautiful red flower that grew over the graves of those who had made the ultimate sacrifice and beautified the ruined landscape. The lapel pin poppy is especially worn on November 11 for Veterans Day.