Cardamom

Cardamom

Elettaria cardamomum

Medicinally, cardamom is used to prevent cavities and halitosis, treats bacterial infections, helps with digestive tract issues, normalizes blood pressure, and protects against chronic disease by reducing inflammation.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Green cardamom
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Seed
  • Side Effects:
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About Cardamom

Cardamom is the queen of spices and hailed as the third most expensive spice in the world, closely following after saffron and vanilla. The spicy and fragrant seeds, enclosed in pods, complement both sweet and savory dishes. 

Cardamom is an herbaceous, flowering perennial that can reach up to the height of 6-10 feet. The leaves have long pointed tips with linear-lanceolate shapes. Its white or pale violet flowers have been known to produce pods after pollination and fertilization that bear fragrant seeds.

Cardamom supports a panoply of tastes and blends well with different cuisines. Medicinally, cardamom is used to prevent cavities and halitosis, treats bacterial infections, helps with digestive tract issues, normalizes blood pressure, and protects against chronic disease by reducing inflammation.

Cardamom is rich in cineole, α-terpinyl acetate, linalyl acetate, linalool, and limonene, which works wonders in bringing health and fighting various diseases. 

 

Growing

It is easy to grow cardamom in summer or warm regions. It can be grown both indoors and outdoors. The outdoor setting is preferred over the indoor containerized cardamom because it is likely to get root-bound and thus, does not produce flowers.

Cardamom seeds are sown 1/8 inch deep and ½ to 1 inch apart in rich loam or sandy soil. It prefers rich humus and a lot of moisture so gardeners add a mulch of grass and straw to keep the moisture content of soil intact.

Note: If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, bring the potted cardamom inside and try to impart it with 6 to 8 hours of filtered but bright sun exposure.

If the cardamom seeds are nourished and watered adequately, they are likely to germinate within 20 to 25 days, and not more than 40 days. The plant grows at a moderate pace and takes around 2 to 5 years to get mature enough to produce the proper fruit.

Cardamom begins to bloom in April-May, and soon in August the flowers turn dry and transform into pods by the time September arrives. The pods bear seeds that can be further used for perpetuation of the cardamom life cycle after achieving a considerable degree of maturity.

 

Harvest

Cardamom pods are ready to be harvested in October and November, provided the fact that they are ripe enough to attain green color upon curing. It is indeed the most finicky part of the whole event. Just to make things easy, pick out any pod and open it up to check the color of the seeds. The ripened seeds are black whereas the immature ones are white. You must aim for the pods having black seeds.

The cardamom pods are handpicked by simply tugging the base of each stem.

The stems are removed and cardamom pods are washed thoroughly. The pods are then dehydrated immediately at 120 degrees Fahrenheit to retain their signature flavor.

 

Usage

Cardamom unknowingly appears everywhere. Be it coffee or wine, baked articles or pickles, cardamom surely know how to surprise us with its remarkable flavor. Here are some of the easiest ways you can add cardamom to your routine.

  • Tincture - Crushed cardamom pods are topped with alcohol and covered for 4 to 6 weeks with periodic shaking. The pods are then strained to attain cardamom tincture.
  • Tea - Cardamom pods are usually combined with tea leaves, water milk, and sugar to form cardamom tea.
  • Decoction - Cardamom pods are crushed and allowed to boil with water for not more than 2 hours to form cardamom decoction.
  • Salve - Cardamom-infused oil is combined with beeswax to form a cardamom salve.
  • Syrup - Crushed cardamom is allowed to roll on the stove with water and sugar to form cardamom syrup.
  • Infused Oil - Ground cardamom is soaked in a carrier oil for 3 days in a dry place. The spice is then strained away and oil is bottled in airtight container.