Seeds are astonishingly diverse – they can be from the tiny poppy seed to a coconut.
Seeds encompass rice, corn, wheat, nuts, and legumes. They represent pure nutrition, and are concentrated in flavour, offer crunchy, pleasant textures, oils, and protein.
Vegetarians always use seeds to compensate for the essential nutrients lacking in their diet.
In Africa and Asia seeds are very popular, as well as in Middle Eastern countries.
Flax-, poppy-, sesame seeds are Old World staples, whereas pumpkin- and sunflower seeds originated in the new World i.e North America.
Flax is likely the most ancient of all domesticated crops. Its fibres were used, and still are, in the production of linen, and the seeds for eating and oils. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that have become the “darling” of nutritionists.
Tiny poppy seeds are nutty, crunchy, and have been used in breads and cakes by ancient Greeks and Romans since time immemorial. Consumed in sufficient quantities, poppy seeds have a tranquilizing effect, and ancient times “doctors” prescribed them as a sedative, pain reliever, for reducing active libido in women.
Sesame seeds have flavoured foods for more than 40 centuries in Japan, and the Middle East. The plant can survive in drought conditions, but also in regions in overabundant rain. Raw sesame seeds have a sweet, buttery taste, and when toasted, become much more intense. Sesame oil is used as a flavouring agent in Japanese and Chinese specialties.
In the Middle East it is used in falafel, hummus, and baba ganoush which Indian call Djelebi.
Pumpkin has been a Native American staple for millennia. Today, pumpkin seeds remain an important ingredient in Mexican cosine. The seeds are roasted and salted, or roasted and ground. They are used to thicken soups and sauces.
In China, and India, whole, seeds are baked into pastries; roasted and salted pumpkin seeds are consumed as snacks.
Sunflower seeds are generally dried, roasted, and milled into four, to extract oil from them for thousands of years by the First Nations in North America.
Sunflowers were introduced to Europe in the 16th century and spread all over the continent due to their huge and attractive flowers and their seeds.
Nuts (filberts, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews, pine nuts) are staples in warm or hot climes. They contain oils, and are generally roasted and salted to preserve them.
Some are used in chocolate manufacturing, others in baking, and still others in specialties to provide textural diversity as used by Chinese chefs.
Nuts grow in a range of climates and taste different according to the environment i.e terroir.
Iranian pistachios are famous for their delicacy, Turkish and Oregon filberts for their refined flavour, English walnuts for their crunchy texture, and Lebanese pine nuts for their intense flavour.