Poppy Seed & Barrel Seed

This post goes live on November 11.  We honor veterans today and every day. The poppy is often used as a symbol of this day.  Last week on Gardening With Soule – Jacqueline discussed how to Grow Poppy Flowers. Since this is a food blog let’s look at the poppy seeds, and the easily harvested Southwestern alternative to them.

Using The Whole Poppy

Many cultures use poppy seed for food. In Europe bakers use poppy seed whole to decorate their products or milled and mixed with sugar as a sweet filling. In Asian cultures the seeds are often used in curry. They have a creamy and nut-like flavor.  Used with ground coconut, poppy seeds offer a unique and flavor-rich curry. Poppy seed may also be roasted and ground for a curry paste.

Barrel cactus seed can be locally foraged. You can use it just like poppy seed.

Poppy seed oil is an edible oil that has many uses, including for cosmetics. The seeds contain very low levels of opiates and the oil extracted from them contains even less. Both the oil and the seed residue are used commercially.


After the poppy oil is pressed out, the leftover seed meal is used as fodder for chicken and other poultry. It is seen as very nutritive during molting and sought by people that keep show birds.

In some parts of the world, poppy stems (poppy straw) is used for energy brickets or pellets to heat homes. Poppy straw is also used to make adobe blocks for building.

Photo from Wikipedia. Copyright 0.0

Finally, when unripe seed poppy seed pods are cut, the plant exudes a latex out from latex cells under the skin. This latex contains soporific and narcotic phytochemicals used to make opiate drugs. Do not try this at home! It is illegal! Indeed growing poppies at all is a somewhat grey area in the USA, which is one reason I grow only a few for their brilliant color, and use barrel seed in any recipe that calls for poppy seed.

savor-southwest-barrelBarrel Seed

The fruit of our Southwestern fishook barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni) is easy to harvest and use, as discussed in May – here. One of my favorite ways to use either barrel, or poppy, or even saguaro seed – is in a One Minute Muffin which is often our quick, protein-rich meal in the morning.


One Minute Barrel Seed Muffin

1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/2 teaspoon alum-free baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sweetening - to taste (stevia, honey, molasses, sugar)
1 teaspoon oil – choice (olive oil, butter, coconut oil)
1 egg
1 teaspoon barrel seed
A nice coating of oil keeps the blend from sticking when cooked.

Use a microwave safe mug or bowl
Spray with cooking spray.
Mix the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ones.
Stir well.
Microwave for 1 minute.
Remove from the cooking dish right away.

Quadruple the recipe and make a barrel seed cake. Fast and easy dessert!

You can quadruple this recipe and cook it in a loaf pan for a loaf cake – but cook for less time, generally 3½ minutes. Optionally you can drizzle this cake with a light icing, which makes a quite elegant coffee cake.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar to snazz up your dessert.


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honey-savor-southwestMore fun with Monica in: Using Honey in New & Savory Ways (Tierra del Sol Institute Press). Only $7 online – or buy from Monica or Jacqueline in person. This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies at no additional cost to you.

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