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Poppy seed

Papaver somniferum
Papaver somniferum
Did you know that… ?
  1. …poppy seeds are not poisonous, but they do contain a small amount of opiate?
  2. …juice from unripe poppy pods is collected for pharmaceutical uses – opium, which contains valuable alkaloids, like morphine and codeine?
  3. …many countries have, as a preventative measure, prohibited planting poppies without explicit permission?
  4. …many Turkish foods and pastries are made with a paste from roasted poppy seeds mixed with poppy oil?
  5. …poppy seeds contain important trace elements like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium?
  6. …poppy was sacred to Hypnos – the Greek god of sleep?
  7. …poppy seed as a spice consists of whole or ground dried seeds of the Papaver somniferum plant?
Poppy seeds

Poppy braid

500 g flour
package yeast
80 g sugar
2 eggs
1/8 l milk, salt
butter to grease baking sheet
Filling: 1/8 l milk
125 g sugar
125 g poppy seeds
100 g raisins
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Mix flour, yeast, eggs, sugar, warm milk and salt into a smooth dough. Allow to rest in a warm place. The volume should double.
While stirring constantly over medium heat, simmer milk, sugar and poppy seeds for about 5 minutes, then add raisins and lemon peel.
Thoroughly knead dough on a floured board and roll into a rectangle about 30 x 40 cm. Spread paste over the dough and roll up from the longer side. Grease baking sheet with butter and dust with flour. Place roll onto sheet and brush with milk. Liberally cut up top surface of roll. Cover, let stand for about 1 hour, then bake for 45 minutes on lower rack of oven, preheated to 200°C.


The Greek goddess Demeter is often portrayed holding a poppy blossom in her hand. All sorts of myths surround both the goddess and poppy. The earliest known form was an extract from the leaves, usually called mekonium, later replaced by the stronger opium. In antiquity, opium was called "poppy tears". Ancient Greeks and Romans used an infusion of poppy as a sleep aid and stomach soother. The genus name Papaver is probably from the Latin papa – children's porridge. Poppy was added to the food of unruly children. The species name somniferum is refers to the sleep making influence of poppies.  As a narcotic it was abused through the 19th century, when smoking opium became fashionable, especially in China and among European artists and authors. In the early nineteenth century when the Chinese government tried to abolish opium smoking in China, trade wars with Britain resulted, because of the loss a British market for opium produced from poppies grown in India.