Cardamom – The Green Queen Of Spices
Cardamom is of the Zingiberaceae family also known as the ginger family, its botanical name is Elettaria cardamomum Maton, and is also called the true form of the spice. The plant is a tropical, shade loving perennial, the leaves are long, lance shaped and light green in color. There are other varieties of the plant one of which is the brown form.
The spice is native to Southern India and also to Sri Lanka.
The spice is thought to have been an important part of Greek trade with the East as early as the 4th century BCE, and to have been the most popular spice in Rome during that time.
The spice is produced in India and Sri Lanka and is considered the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla.
The best quality of the spice are the pods that have an even lime green color, and are called green although the seeds are brown as a result of the green color of the pod. The pods should smell like eucalyptus and be slightly oily to the touch. The seeds rapidly lose their potency after being removed from the pod; therefore buying the whole pod is recommended.
The spice in powdered form rapidly loses its potency and should be avoided unless it has been recently ground and packed in a material designed to keep the flavor fresh.
The spice should be stored in packets that are airtight and extremes of heat, light, and humidity should be avoided.
The spice is versatile, equally complimentary to savory and sweet dishes. The spice is pungent and can be used sparingly which is a good thing since it is also an expensive spice.
The spice is used in Danish pastries, cakes, biscuits and fruits dishes, used in Indian curries, and Arabian coffee.
For other information about cardamom click on the link to Wikipedia.org
For some great sections on herbs and spices some great references are:
• The Spice and Herb Bible – Second Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill
• The Food Encyclopedia by Jacques L. Rolland and Carol Sherman with other contributors
Herbs and Spices
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