Cardamom

Penzeys Spices - Catalog of Sesoning - http://www.penzeys.com

An extremely flavorful and ancient spice native to India, cardamom's use has spread throughout the world, with nearly every culture having its own distinctive use for the flavorful seeds. In India, where both green and black cardamom are used, it is an important ingredient in meat and vegetable dishes. In parts of the Middle East the seeds are mixed with green coffee beans before brewing. In Northern Europe (especially Scandinavia) white cardamom is used to season baked goods such as Christmas stollen, cakes, cookies, muffins and buns. Green cardamom is preferred in India and the Middle East. Cardamom is a pod consisting of an outer shell with little flavor and tiny inner seeds with intense flavor. Fancy white and green pods have no splits or cracks in the shell, so the flavor keeps well. Stored in a glass jar, cardamom pods will stay fresh indefinitely. Shelled or decorticated cardamom seeds are inexpensive and flavorful, but sometimes need to be crushed or ground before use. Ground cardamom has an intensely strong flavor and is easy to use (especially in baking, where the fine powder is desirable). Black cardamom, long a staple in African cooking, was originally used in India as a cheap substitute for green cardamom pods. Black cardamom has a unique smoky flavor and has developed its own following over the years.

Cardamom - extracted from the pages of One Planet - http://www.oneplanetnatural.com

Also spelled CARDAMON, spice consisting of whole or ground dried fruit, or seeds, of Elettaria cardamomum, a herbaceous perennial of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). The seeds have a warm, slightly pungent, and highly aromatic flavour somewhat reminiscent of camphor. They are a popular seasoning in Oriental dishes, particularly curries, and in Scandinavian pastries. Two varieties are grown in India but cardamom is also cultivated in Guatemala and Sri Lanka. Indian cardamom is considered premium quality: the Malabar variety, more rounded in shape, has a pleasant mellow flavor; the Mysore variety, which is ribbed and three-cornered, has a slightly harsher flavor. Guatemalan cardamom compares favorably with that of Indian origin. Cardamom was grown in the garden of the king of Babylon in 721 b.c. The ancient Greeks and Romans used cardamom in perfumes and it is used in the cosmetic industry today.

Native to the moist forests of southern India, cardamom fruit may be collected from wild plants; but most is cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, and Guatemala. Leafy shoots arise 1.5 to 6 m (5 to 20 feet) from the branching rootstock. Flowering shoots, approximately 1 m long, may be upright or sprawling; each bears numerous flowers about 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter with greenish petals and a purple-veined white lip.

The whole fruit, 0.8 to 1.5 cm, is a green, three-sided oval capsule containing 15 to 20 dark, reddish brown to brownish black, hard, angular seeds. They are picked or clipped from the stems just before maturity, cleansed, and dried in the sun or in a heated curing chamber. Cardamom may be bleached to a creamy white colour in the fumes of burning sulfur. After curing and drying, the small stems of the capsules are removed by winnowing. Decorticated cardamom consists of husked dried seeds. The essential oil occurs in large parenchyma cells underlying the epidermis of the seed coat. The essential oil content varies from 2 to 10 percent; its principal components are cineole and -terpinyl acetate.

The name cardamom is sometimes applied to other similar spices of the ginger family (Amomum, Aframomum, Alpinia) used in cuisines of Africa and Asia or as commercial adulterants of true cardamoms.


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2000-October-02

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