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Cardamom
shopping: all 5 varieties
Elettaria cardamomum

cardamom

plant overview
cardamom, indian spice staple

Also known as "Capalaga" and "Ilachi," Cardamom is native to Southern India and cultivated elsewhere, most notably Guatemala. This large-leafed perennial member of the ginger family is harvested for its seedpods, which consists of three chambers that contain an aromatic, pungent seed. Cardamom seed is a staple seasoning in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, in which it is used to flavor meat, vegetables, baked goods, coffee and other beverages.

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.
Cardamom
01.
A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information about cardamom

description
Cardamom grows in a thick clump of up to 20 leafy shoots. It can reach a height of between 2 to almost 6 m. The leaves are dark green, long and sword-shaped. The underside is paler and may have a covering of tiny hairs. The flowers form on a long flowering stalk which can grow to more than 1 m long. They are both male and female and are pale green. One of the petals is white and streaked with violet.

The fruit are pale green to yellow and elongated oval-shape. Each fruit has 3 chambers filled with small aromatic seeds, each about 3 mm long. The fruits and seeds dry to a straw-brown color.

common names & nomenclature
The word "cardamom" is derived from the Latin cardamomum, itself derived from the Greek kardamomon, which was derived from the name for a kind of an Indian spice plant.

Also known as:
green cardamom, true cardamom, ceylon cardamom, cardamamus, cardamom, grains of paradise; french: cardamome; german: kardamom; italian: cardamomo, cardamone; spanish: cardamomo; thai: grawahn


02.
Where in the World
habitat and range for cardamom

Cardamom is native to southeastern Asia from India south to Sri Lanka and east to Malaysia and western Indonesia, where it grows in tropical rainforests.

03.
Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting cardamom

climate
Cardamom grows on the shady jungle floor of tropical rainforests, in cooler climates it is grown indoors as a houseplant.

soil
Prefers a rich, loamy, slightly acidic soil. For best results, fertilize or amend soil with minerals phosphorus and potassium.

growing
The smaller seeds should be sown in a light but rich soil buried approximately 1/8" beneath the surface of the soil. Cardamom requires a steady supply of moisture and will not tolerate drought. If growing in a greenhouse, it should be kept humid. Cardamom is not tolerant of cold and should be kept in a location with many hours of partial or indirect sunlight.

harvesting
Cardamom requires approximately 3 years of growth to produce capsules containing seeds. After the flowers mature, they will gradually dry out as capsule develops. These can be collected when capsules begin to turn green, and later dried on screens over the course of 6-7 days. Turn frequently.

The seeds can be collected once pods are dry and easy to break open. Place pods into a bowl, and carefully thresh by applying light pressure to break up dried seed pod. Separate seed from chaff by winnowing with a small fan, or by placing into a medium screen and gently shaking back and forth while lightly pressing extraneous matter through.

preserving
Store seeds in a sealed container in a dry, cool location out of direct sunlight.

04.
The Rest of the Story
cardamom history, folklore, literature & more

cardamom flavor notes
warm, pungent and slightly lemony with low notes of sweetness

cardamom culinary uses
Cardamom is a member of the ginger family known for its unique flavor and aroma, which can be described as smoky, floral, citrus and sweet—all at the same time.

Many traditional Indian dishes feature different varieties of cardamom. Elettaria, or green cardamom, is combined with condensed milk and sugar to make sweets collectively referred to as mithai. Green cardamom is also used to flavor coffee and teas, most notably Masala chai.

Since culinary connoisseurs consider green cardamon the premium variety, it is commonly used to flavor meats, poultry, seafood, vegetable dishes, soups and sauces. In contrast, Amomum, or black cardamom, imparts a slightly mint-like flavor and is an ingredient in garam masala, a seasoning blend used to flavor curries and rice dishes.

Internally, you can take butcher's broom as a tonic. Usually, you just add a ½ ounce of the root to a cup of boiling water to make a tea. You can also make a tonic by boiling a few twigs in a large amount of water and allowing it to cool before drinking. Remove the twigs before you drink it, of course.

one more fun use
Due to the cool sensation black cardamon leaves on the tongue, it is included in the formula for Eclipse Breeze, a breath-freshening gum produced by Wrigley.

traditional plant usage
three cups of coffee

The spice is also a constituent in gahwa, a festive coffee blend that has become recognized as a symbol of hospitality in Indian households. Should you find yourself fortunate enough to be offered this treat, be aware that it is considered rude to refuse anything less than three cups.

farming and processing
Cardamom is a member of the ginger family known for its unique flavor and aroma, which can be described as smoky, floral, citrus and sweet—all at the same time. A native of India and Malaysia, cardamom is harvested in October, and the whole pods are dried in the sun or in curing houses and then sorted according to color.

Common cardamom, or Elettaria cardamomum, ranges from green to yellow-gray in color. The fruit of other species, however, may be brown, black, red or even white. The flavor of all cardamoms is best preserved when stored as whole pods since the seeds remain intact, although the pods are also ground into a spice. You can also purchase the seeds, which are sold as "decorticated cardamom."

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
you should always consult with your doctor
before making any changes to your diet!!
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