Cardamom – The queen of spices

green cardamom

Cardamom is a popular spice used in Indian cooking and is a major component of Garam Masala. Cardamom has many medicinal properties apart from the culinary role. It is considered as the third most expensive spice in the world after Saffron and Vanilla.

Historical background of Cardamom

The origin of cardamom is believed in the rain forest of western ghats of South India (Kerala). India had a monopoly in cardamom production in the past. But now it is widely cultivated in various lands like Guatemala, Srilanka, Thailand, etc…

  • The use of cardamom can be found in the ancient Vedic texts such as Taiteraya Upanishads which is believed to be written in BC 5000.
  • Cardamom has been mentioned as a spice of great value in Charaka Samhita and Susrutha Samhita which is believed to be written in BC 1000.
  • A document called the Ebers Papyrus ( believed to be written in BC 1500 mentioned that Egyptians used cardamom as medicines, embalming, and other ritual practices. They also used it for chewing to get clean teeth and fresh breath.

egyptians and cardamom

  • A thousand years ago, Vikings find the cardamom during their expeditions and brought it to Scandinavia and Germany.
  • Greek traders records in 4th BC mentioned that they imported 2 varieties of cardamom from india
    • Amomon – an inferior variety of cardamom
    • Kardamomon – a superior variety of cardamom
  • In 325 BC, the soldiers of Alexander introduced cardamom to the European countries.
  • In the 1st century AD, Romans imported a huge amount of cardamom from India.
  • It is believed that Cleopatra got her palace scented with cardamom to welcome Mark Antony.
  • Cardamom was initially brought to Guatemala by German coffee planters in 1914.
  • Now Guatemala is the biggest producer of cardamom by overtaking India and Srilanka.

Top Cardamom producing countries

The top cardamom producing countries are Guatemala, India, Srilanka, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

Top Caramom importing countries

The top cardamom importing countries are the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Europe, and Japan.

Different names of Cardamom

Cardamom is known in different names in different languages. Let’s see what are the common names of cardamom.

LanguageName
FrenchCardamome
GermanKardamom
ItalianCardamomo
SpanishCardamomo
BurmesePhalazee
ChineseTs'ao-k'ou
IndianChhoti elachi
IndonesianKapulaga
MalayBuah pelaga
SinhaleseEnasal
TamilElam
ThaiGrawahn
MalayalamYelakka

Cardamom production in India

Kerala is the major cardamom producer in India with a share of 70% in the total production. Karnataka shares 18% of production and Tamil Nadu shares 9%. The rest of the production is from West Bengal and Sikkim. The lion share of cardamom production in Kerala happens in the district of Idukki (Udumbanchola, Peeremedu, Devikulam taluks). Shimoga is the major cardamom producer in the state of Karnataka.

Production, Export, and Import of Cardamom from India

SpicesYearProductionExport Quantity (tons)Export Value (INR Crores)Import Quantity (tons)Import Value (INR Crores)
Cardamom(small)2015-1623,8905,500449.8385044.74
2016-1717,9903,850421.50172088.70
2017-1820,6505,680609.0868543.79
2018-19(*)12,9502,250242.5035328.24
Cardamom(large)2015-165,31560075.513410307.95
2016-17557078082.653120242.42
2017-185,90576056.475,670331.09
2018-19(*)6,03858534.632,270119.86

Source pib.gov.in

Types of Cardamom

There are mainly 5 types of cardamom

  • Green cardamom
  • Black cardamom
  • White cardamom
  • Cardamom seed
  • Ground cardamom

Green Cardamom

Green Cardamom

Green cardamom is the most popular cardamom in India. Green cardamom pods are collected from the cardamom plant just before it get ripened and preserved either with the help of sunlight or artificially to preserve the light green color. Green cardamom is the best cardamom available compared to other types because of its ability to retain the aroma and taste for longer. It is also the most expensive variety of cardamom.

Black Cardamom

Black_Cardamom_Pods

Black cardamom is also aromatic and it looks similar to that of green cardamom but with black color. Its flavor is much sweetness and a flowery accent. Black cardamom is widely used in African cooking while cooking vegetarian dishes.

White Cardamom

White cardamom

White cardamom is widely used in European countries and America. This cardamom gets the white color by bleaching the cardamom at the time of preservation. The cardamom loses the majority of its aroma while bleaching and it is used in desserts and baking.

Cardamom Seed

Cardamom seeds

Cardamom seed is what remains if we remove the cardamom pod. If you don’t like to have cardamom pods in your cuisines, you can use cardamom seeds instead. Cardamom seeds are the most aromatic part of cardamom fruit.

Ground Cardamom

cardamom-powder

Cardamom loses its freshness and aroma while grounding. Therefore we suggest grounding the cardamom only just before cooking.

Botanical classification of cardamom

  • Kingdom – Plantae
  • Order – Zingiberales
  • Family – Zingiberaceae
  • Genus – Elettaria
  • Species – Cardamomum

Part used as a spice – fruit, seed

Optimum conditions to grow cardamom

ParametersRequirements
Annual rain fall ranges1500 - 4000 mm
Temperature10 -35 degree
Altitude600-1200 m above mean sea level
SoilDeep black soil
SeasonJune - December
pH5.0 - 6.5
Humidity level75%

How to grow cardamom

  1. Seeds or suckers
    • Seeds or suckers can be used to grow cardamom plants. You can collect cardamom seeds or suckers to grow from any agricultural company or any farmers who are already cultivating cardamom.
  2. Sow the plant in fertile soil
    • You should sow the seed our sucker in fertile soil. Black fertile soil with the content of sand is the ideal soil. A place with the shadow is the most ideal place for growing cardamom.  Dig pits of 60cm x 60cm x 60cm and fill it with compost and top fertile soil.
  3. Spacing
    • Larger cardamom plant – 2.5 x 2.00 m
    • Smaller types – 2.0 x 1.5 m
  4. Weeding
    • Weeding has to be done once in every 2 months.
  5. Overshadow
    • To protect the plant from the sun.
  6. Irrigation
    • Normally cardamom grows in rainfed areas. But to increase productivity, one can employ drip irrigation during the summer season.
  7. Add fertilizer twice a month

Harvesting cardamom fruits

The cardamom plat will get matured in 2-3 years. Fruits will get matured in 120 days after flowering. We will be able to harvest the crop in the 3rd year.

Cardamom_Picking

Time and Stage of Harvesting

There are mainly 4 harvesting seasons for cardamom in a year. 2 major seasons where the production is very high and 2 minor seasons where production is very low.

How to find mature cardamom fruits?

Gather the cardamom pod by hand. Once the capsules of cardamom fruit begin to dry out a little, pull one to see if it breaks easily. If the fruit snaps off easily, you can begin pulling off all of the mature cardamom pods.

Drying of Cardamom

Before drying the cardamom, it has to be cleansed using water to remove the dirt and dust from it. To retain the green color of the cardamom, it is soaked in a sodium carbonate solution. The cardamom capsules should be dried within 24 hours or else it will lose the green color and thereby price.

If you have only a small amount of cardamom, you can dry it with the help of the sun. Spread the cardamom in a single layer in the sun to dry. Larger, commercial harvests often dry cardamom using extremely hot cardamom dryers.

After drying the cardamom, it is sorted and separated based on quality and size.

Cardamom segregation

Benefits of cardamom

  • Bad breath
    • Cardamom is very effective in removing bad odors from mouth. Therefore it is even used in chewing gums these days.
  • Throat problems
    • Cardamom can be used to soothe a sore throat and improve the sound.
  • Digestion
    • Cardamom is a good remedy for a list of digestive problems like constipation, dysentery, and indigestion. To solve digestive problems, you can use cardamom either as seed, or grounded and added to food or as cardamom tea.
  • Cancer prevention.
    • Cardamom contains IC3 (indole-3-carbinol) and DIM(diindolylmethane). These chemicals can prevent cancers like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.
  • Anti-aging
    • Cardamom contains antioxidants that prevent the body from aging and stress.
  • Detoxification
    • It helps to eliminate toxins from the body using the kidney. Cardamom helps to clean out the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys, removing waste, salt, excess water, toxins, and combating infections too.
  • Depression
    • Ayurveda suggests that cardamom tea is the best solution to combat depression.
  • Cold & Flu
    • Cardamom is widely used in medicines (Chukkukappi) to counter cold and flu.
  • Blood Pressure
    • Cardamom is a known blood pressure reducer.

Where to buy cardamom

The easy method to buy green cardamom is from grocery stores near to your home. But if you want to buy fresh, aromatic green cardamom online, then the spice basket is the best solution. They are collecting green cardamom from the farmers of Idukki, Kerala, which is the biggest cardamom producer in India. The cardamom given by spice basket is the best quality. Not just cardamom, you can buy any Kerala spices online from Spice Basket.

 

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