Although this spice originated in the rainforests of India and Sri Lanka, today the highest quality cardamom is grown in Guatemala. Cardamom’s spicy, citrus-like flavor is a great compliment to both sweet and savory foods. In its native India, cardamom is often referred to as the “Queen of Spices” and is used in many types of curries, as well as Garam Masala. It is also traditionally used to flavor Danish pastries, cakes, biscuits, custards and fruit dishes. Cardamom works exceptionally well in desserts with apples, which is why we add a dash to our Apple Pie Spice.
During Roman times, in addition to its culinary uses, cardamom was valued for its ability to clean teeth and sweeten breath after meals, especially if those meals contained large amounts of garlic.
Cardamom produces pods or capsules that form after the pollination of its flowers. These lime green pods are harvested just before maturity and dried. Each pod contains three seed segments, which in turn contain three to four brown-black, oily, pungent seeds.
Green cardamom pods are a staple in Indian cuisine, where they are often crushed and added to many dishes, mainly curries. Also try adding a few to coffee grounds before brewing for a subtle, Arabian brew or include them in homemade chai tea.
Cardamom seeds can be ground using a pepper mill or coffee grinder and added to any recipe that requires cardamom. They are a great addition to pot roast and marinades, as well as baked goods. Try adding a dash of cardamom to your carrot cake this Easter!
Ground cardamom is a great alternative when grinding whole seeds is not convenient. Use relatively quickly, however, as the spice’s volatile flavor will dissipate over time. Store in an airtight container (such as our jars) away from direct heat and sunlight.