‘Seinfeld’ lied. Poppy seed muffins will pass a drug test

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

Most foods don’t come with warning labels, but maybe an exception should be made for poppy seed muffins.

Fans of the classic TV show “Seinfeld” will remember the iconic episode where Elaine fails a drug test because her sole vice was being a habitual consumer of poppy seed muffins. When her boss sees the test results, he screams at her, “White Lotus. Yam-yam. Shanghai-Sally.”

Could this happen in real life? The answer is yes and no.

Poppy seeds come from the opium poppy (also known as the breadseed poppy) and contain trace amounts of opiates. The seeds themselves are not the source of opium; that’s the gum contained in the seed pod. The pods are slit and liquid that exudes is the first ingredient necessary in the production of heroin. From contact with the pods, the seeds pick up small amounts of the drug.

In 1998, recognizing the fact that poppy seed muffins and poppy seed bagels are a popular breakfast item, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services raised the recommended level needed to test positive for opiates from 300 nanograms per milliliter to 2,000 nanograms. To reach that limit would require eating a truckload of muffins. Beware of any lawyer who advises you to plead the “Seinfeld Defense.”

All advisements having been issued, below is a straightforward recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins. These are true muffins, rather than the icing laden “cupcakes” sold commercially. They make a perfect accompaniment to a hearty winter soup or stew.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

2 cups unbleached flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

11/2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk, sour cream or plain yogurt

6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degress.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, poppy seeds and salt. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, measure out the sugar and add the lemon zest. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar. Add the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Mix well.

Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix lightly until all of the dry ingredients are wet. Do not overmix, as the muffins will be tough.

Divide the mixture into 12 muffin cups. An ice cream scoop speeds up this step. Place the muffin tin in the center of the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly brown on the top.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at julietrulie11@gmail.com.

Stock tip

Dried up half onion? Limp carrots? Browning celery? Don’t throw them in the garbage. Instead, put them in a plastic bag in the freezer. When you have a goodly amount, or the spirit moves you, throw them in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a bay leaf and any other herbs you have on hand. Simmer for an hour, drain the stock, place into quart containers, and freeze. No matter what the groundhog says, I predict there will be plenty of soup days ahead.