Cardamom (Eletteria Cardamomum) is a perennial plant native to southern India and Sri Lanka. It grows in great abundance in forests from 800 – 1,500 meters (2,500- 5,000 feet) above sea level.
Cardamom belongs to the same family as ginger; Zingiberaceae.
After two to three years the plant will be about 2 meters (6 -9 feet) tall. The plant can grow to about 5 meters (15 feet) tall. Cardamom replants easily from just a piece of the rhizome.
The cardamom fruits are capsules that contain around twenty grains. These are the grains we use as a spice.
Cardamom pods need to be individually picked using scissors. This is not a job for the impatient person.
Not all fruits ripen at the same time. The harvest may continue for several months.
Cardamom is one of the oldest known spices. In Ancient Egypt it was used in perfumes. They simply loved the aroma of cardamom.
You will find that there are both black cardamom pods and green cardamom pods. The black cardamom pods have a smokier flavor.
If you get the whole pods remember to open them and use only the seeds inside when grinding. Some will grind the whole pod but that is a poor solution. A good coffee grinder will do the job. You can also buy ground cardamom.
In Northern Europe it is quite common to use cardamom when baking.
When baking the green cardamom is used.
Some say that you can use cardamom in recipes that call for vanilla. Just replace the vanilla with cardamom.
A teaspoon grounded cardamom is often included in sweet buns recipes. They use it in cakes and cookies. Why not try cardamom cookies?
In Asia, especially India, cardamom is a very common cooking spice. It is one of the spices used in the mixture of spices known as curry.
In the Middle East cardamom is added to flavor coffee. In Iran cardamom may be added to tea.
Cardamom has been used for centuries for digestive problems. It is used to help the relief of gas and stomach cramps.
It is said to be good for the lungs, helping you to breathe more freely and it is used to help increase blood circulation.
Cardamom is known to treat bad breath.
This is useful knowledge for those of us who love garlic. Cardamom will help reduce the smell garlic on your breath.
In China they absolutely love garlic. Shortly after a meal containing garlic some may simply start to chew cardamom seeds to freshen their breath.
Cardamom has a long reputation as an aphrodisiac spice. Could this be one of the reasons many love to sprinkle cardamom on their tea or coffee?