Elettaria cardamomum (L.) Maton
Elettaria cardamomum, also known as the true cardamom, green cardamom or just cardamom, is a native of India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bhutan. It belongs to the ginger family (zingerberaceae). Guatemala is the largest producer and exporter of cardamom.
Cardamom is the third most expensive spice, after saffron and vanilla. The part of the plant used is the whole pods (fruits) or seeds. The seeds can also be ground into cardamom powder. Pure ground cardamom can be bought in stores. The ground spice has a strong, intense flavour so should be used sparingly.
True cardamom should not be confused with black cardamom, which comes from two closely related species, Amomum costatum and Amomum subulatum, which are distributed mainly in Asia and Australia.
Cardamom is a herbaceous plant 2-5.5m tall, that grows in thick clumps, with up to 1.2 m long leaves arising from the rootstock. Flowers grow on long inflorescences of up to 1.2 m long, are 40 x 17 mm and are white with violet streaks radiating from the centre.
Flavour: cardamom has a unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance.
Use of Cardamom
The dried fruits (pods) are used as a spice, masticatory (a substance chewed to increase saliva) and in traditional medicine.
Cardamom is used whole or ground in savoury and sweet dishes, like Pilau, Indian sweets, Masala tea and meat dishes. It’s an important spice in curries.
It’s also used in flavouring coffee, baked goods, like muffins traditional Swedish bread, pulla and Christmas bread Julekake, just to mention a few.
The plant yields a volatile oil used in perfumery, for flavoring liqueurs and bitters, and in preparation of tinctures.