Cultivation of cumin requires a long, hot summer with 3-4 months with
daytime temperatures around 30 °C; it is drought tolerant, and is
mostly grown in mediterranean climates. A hot climate is preferred, but it
can be grown in cooler regions if started under glass in spring.
It is grown from seed sown in spring, and needs a fertile, well-drained soil. A sandy soil is best; when the seedlings have hardened, transplant carefully to a sunny aspect, planting out 15cm apart. Seed regularly.
The reported life zone of cumin is 9 to 26 degrees centigrade with an annual precipitation of 0.3 to 2.7 meters and a soil pH of 4.5 to 8.3.
The plants bloom in June and July. The seeds are normally ready four months after planting. Cut the plants when the seeds turn to brown, thresh and dry like the other Umbelliferae.
They should be sown in small pots, filled with light soil and plunged into a very moderate hot bed to bring up the plants. Keep clean of weeds and the plants will flower very well and will probably perfect their seeds if the season should be warm and favourable.
The plants are threshed when the fruit is ripe and the 'seeds' are dried.
The valued portion of the plant is the dried fruit called cumin seed, which is esteemed as a condiment.
It should be kept in air tight containers and should be used in the hot
oil or can be consumed raw in curd, tomatoes etc. The seeds can be lightly
roasted before being used whole or ground to bring out the aroma.
Cumin may also be pounded with other spices in mixtures such as curry powder. Ground cumin must be kept airtight, to retain its pungency. This spice should be used with restraint - it can exclude all the other flavours in a dish. Less than a teaspoon of it will flavour a meal for four.