I was trying to boil some poppy seeds in some milk, along with some sugar and some lemon juice. After more than 1.5 hours of simmering this mixture, the seeds were still tough and crunchy, when some recipes I found online suggested simmering for ~20 minutes.

What do you suppose I did wrong? Are there several kinds of cooking poppy? Did I need to soak them beforehand? I have bought the seeds at a market about one month ago and kept them in a jar in a dark, room-temperature place.


There are actually three types of poppyseeds, the “blue”, the “grey” and the “white” kind.

  • The “blue” is the more common one in Europe, it’s dark blueish-grey as grains and produces an almost black mass if prepared as described below. It has a robust, assertive, earthy flavor that is used both in sweet and savory dishes.

  • The “grey” is a local specialty of the Austrian Waldviertel, and is milder than the blue type, often used in desserts.

  • The nutty and mild “white” is a staple in Indian cuisine where it’s used ground and used as binder like flour or nuts.

From your comments I can conclude that you were aiming for a poppyseed pastry filling which is common on the Balkans and other European regions. For this, ground or rather crushed seeds are cooked with a little liquid, often milk, and sugar to create a more or less thick paste. With ground seeds, a short boil and steeping is sufficient. Some preparations skip boiling the poppyseeds entirely and just pour hot milk over them and let them soak up the liquid.

In any case, you need to remember that poppy seeds contain a lot of oil, so many regular mills can’t handle them properly without creating an oily mess. You can also buy the seeds pre-ground, but you shouldn’t store them too long because of the aforementioned oils, which can get rancid quickly.

  • These have a bluish colour to them. Unfortunately, they haven't been ground. As I said in a comment to the George M's answer, I supposed that they need to be ground. Is a small blender okay for this? I'll mark this answer as accepted as soon as I try grounding them! – NMilev Nov 23 '18 at 17:46
  • @NMilev I never tried a blender, sorry. – Stephie Nov 23 '18 at 17:49
  • I'll let you know! :) Grinding*, btw. – NMilev Nov 23 '18 at 18:05

Maybe they are old? Very old, like several years? Did you buy them recently, do you have reason to think the store you bought them from has pretty fast turnover?

Also, you don't think they'd ever be really soft, right? Cause they won't :-)

  • It's more of a marketplace seller than a store. I have no idea about the turnover. I bought them about a month ago, as I said in the post. In the meantime, a friends mom told me that they need to be ground. I had no idea. I will try that definitely (I still have some seeds left). About them being soft, I'm from Serbia and here we often make sweet pastries with poppy seeds. They are mostly pretty soft. Not gooey but still a lot softer than what I got. – NMilev Nov 22 '18 at 8:07
  • Old poppyseeds get noticeably rancid - I guess the OP would have noticed the off smell during cooking at the latest. – Stephie Nov 22 '18 at 13:43
  • I've never ground poppy seeds, or needed to. But I wouldn't describe the ones I've gotten in the US as ever 'soft'. So maybe I'm used to putting up with much harder ones than you've had :-) – user57361 Nov 23 '18 at 17:42

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