Q. Can you tell me about how cardamom is produced?
Cardamom is a spice produced from the seeds of two plants - Elettaria cardamomum and Amomum subulatum. Both are members of the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family. The former species produces true or green cardamom and the latter black cardamom. Both cardamom species are native to the Indian sub-continent although Guatemala is now the largest producer of the spice.
Both cardamoms have a unique, aromatic smell and taste. Black cardamom has a more smokey flavor. Green cardamom is the third most expensive spice (after saffron and vanilla) used in cooking. Cardamom is used in many foods. It is a component of curry powder and other spice blends, e.g. masalas. It is used in Nordic breads and sweets and as a spice in some teas (chai) and coffees.
Being as cardamom is a tropical plant, it can be grown outdoors in the United States only in USDA Zones 9 - 11. It should be grown in partial shade in rich soil which is slightly acidic. The soil should be kept moist. Cardamom can also be grown indoors in pots and moved outdoors in the summer. Indoors they need 6 - 8 hours of bright, filtered light. The soil should be kept moist. Since they can grow to 10 ft., they need lots of room.
Collect the seed pods when they are ripe. When crushed, they release small black seeds. Some cooks claim that the seed are best saved in their pods as the released seeds quickly loose their flavor.
Cardamon has been claimed to be effective in treating many diseases and has found application in many traditional medicines. It is claimed to have use as antiseptic, a local anesthetic and as an antioxidant in addition to playing health promoting and disease preventing roles. These claims do not, however, seem to have been confirmed by any scientific studies, Cardamon is rich in iron and magnesium but the small amount used in flavoring foods would not give much benefit.
Courtesy of the NYBG Plant Information Service
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