Ground Cardamom plays an important role in our everyday life. It is a very essential spice that is very useful for cooking in the Indian subcontinent region. When cardamom will be grounded into powder, it is called ground cardamom.
Cardamom is a widely used spice. It is extracted from the seeds of plants of the Zingiberaceae family. Cardamom is found in India and Indonesia. The seeds are recognized by their small pods. The pods are spindle-shaped with an outer shell and inner seeds. The outer pod is thin and papery, and the seeds are small and black. The most common are two types of pods: Elettaria, which is light green and smaller, and Amomum, which is larger and dark brown. Cardamom is the third most expensive spice in the world, after vanilla and saffron.
Cooking with different spices is a fantastic way to get to know the flavors of the world, especially in 2020, when it’s harder than ever to get out of the house). But with so many spices in the pantry, it can be hard to know what spices are out there and what they taste like. Does anyone want to get more detailed? Cardamom!
It’s been used for centuries to flavor coffee, rice dishes, and baked goods around the world, but want to know what it really is? We asked Ethan Frisch, co-founder of Burlap & Barrel (a single-source spice company), what cardamom is, what it tastes like and where it comes from to understand the versatility of this spice. Frisch works directly with small farmers around the world to source unique spices, so he knows his spices. Ground Cardamom has a strong flavor.
What is Ground cardamom?
Cardamom is a spice of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), recognized by its triangular pods with small black seeds. Cardamom originated in subtropical Asia and is an important ingredient in Indian cuisine, but is now also grown in Guatemala, Malaysia, and Tanzania. It is sold in whole pods, whole peeled seeds, or in powdered form. When cardamom will be grounded into powder, it will be ground cardamom.
Description and use of ground cardamom
It is often called green cardamom because the pods are bright green and should not be confused with brown or coarse cardamom. It has a mild eucalyptus aroma that gives the spice blend a “fresh” note. Because of its strong camphor aroma, cardamom is considered a spice, so it is only used in small amounts. It was harvested from wild plants and was only cultivated in the 19th century. The Greeks were already trading with it in the 4th century BC. The pods, seeds, and ground seeds are used in curries and sweet spice blends. A sweet aroma will be found from ground cardamom.
It is combined with vegetable and meat dishes. It is traditionally used in Danish pastries. Cardamom pods are harvested before they are fully ripe (ripe pods tend to burst) and dried in the oven. The greenest pods are the most expensive. White cardamom pods (now rarely available) have been bleached with peroxide or sulfur dioxide and are not recommended for use. Differences in quality are usually due to post-harvest drying/treatment. Ground seed pods (which have less flavor) are sometimes sold as ground cardamom seeds. People reading Asian and Indian cookbooks often confuse green cardamom with brown cardamom. Brown cardamom has a distinctive “musty-smoky” flavor. Therefore, green cardamom and brown cardamom are not interchangeable in recipes.
History of cardamom
The word “cardamom” comes from the Latin “cardamomum”, taken from the Greek “kardamomon”, composed of “kardamon” (watercress) and “common” (probably the name of an Indian spice plant).
The history of cardamom in India dates back to ancient times, and the first written mention of cardamom was found on a clay tablet from the ancient city of Nippur (in present-day Iraq), dating back to 2000 BC. It is said that ground cardamom was mixed with bread and added to soups. In 720 BC, cardamom was growing in the gardens of a Babylonian king.
According to an ancient text from the Taittiriya Samhita (500 BC) of ancient Hindu culture, the sacrificial fire was a common ritual in a Hindu wedding ceremony, and cardamom was the ingredient used for the fire.
In the 4th century BC, the Greek “father of botany” Theophrastus (371-287 BC) was the first to discover the differences between brown and green cardamom. He later headed the Lyceum, the peripatetic school (ancient Greek philosophical school), when Aristotle fled Athens. Spices were a symbol of royalty and luxury, and cardamom was already used to make perfumes in the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. At that time, cardamom was also used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine.
Cardamom is believed to have been introduced to Europe in 1214 by the Vikings who visited present-day Turkey and brought it to Scandinavia, where it remains a popular spice. You will buy pure ground cardamom from stores.
Cardamom is a perennial herb that grows wild in the tropics and is grown in plantations in our country. It grows to a height of 6-16 feet and has long, dark green leaves that are 12-24 feet long and 2-6 feet wide. The elongated, deciduous stems extend from the base of the plant to the ground, where the seed pods are located. The flowers are green with a purple-white tip. Cardamom has a large, tuberous, creeping rhizome (a modified subway stem of the plant that usually grows underground, often forming roots and shoots at its nodes).
In nature, cardamom is traditionally grown in tropical forest areas with few subway shrubs. When grown in plantations, the undergrowth is cleared, trees are thinned to provide sufficient shade and rhizome cuttings or seeds are planted at 3-meter intervals.
Plants are usually harvested between October and December. The timing of harvest is very important to ensure not only optimum quality but also maximum yield. When the cardamom pod is fully ripe, it opens to allow the seeds to fall to the ground and into the air. Therefore, the pods should be harvested when they are still slightly immature and green, and only when the seeds start to blacken (inside the pod). They are dried in the sun or bleached with sulfur steam.
The small rubbery brownish-black seeds are found in the pod in three double rows, with about six seeds per row. Cardamom pods measure 1/4 to 3/4 inches.
Our organic cardamom seeds come from Guatemala. The ground cardamom will give you a strong aroma.
When and where is ground cardamom used?
In Indian and Asian cuisine, whole green cardamom pods, cardamom seeds, and ground cardamom are used in cooking or sprinkled on savory dishes. Green cardamom is an important spice for halwa (a type of sweet pastry), Kesari (pudding), ice cream, custard, and sriquand (yogurt). Cardamom also contributes the typical spicy flavor to biryani and creamy Mughlai-style chow.
Ground cardamom is an important spice in the cuisine of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Arabs add cardamom to a dish of roasted meat and rice with nuts and saffron called kabsah (very similar to Indian biryani). In Saudi Arabia, ground cardamom is often added to a dark roasted coffee called gahira (or gahwa), which is served to guests.
Outside Scandinavia, cardamom has never been very popular in Europe. In Southeast Asia, cardamom plays an important role in curries, desserts, and pilafs.
Ground cardamom is the main ingredient in Berbere spice blends, mild curry powder, and garam masala.
Ground cardamom combines well with cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, paprika, and pepper.
One of our favorite recipes with cardamom seed powder is a sweet and savory cardamom spice cake.
Which is better: cardamom capsules, cardamom seeds, or ground cardamom?
Buying ground cardamom is the most convenient solution, but it certainly does not offer the best flavor. Due to the high essential oil content of cardamom, the closer you get to the whole pods, the more intense the flavor will be.
For example, buying cardamom seeds and grinding them yourself will give you more flavor than buying ground cardamom, while buying cardamom pods and grinding them will give you the most flavor of the three.
We have found that it is possible to chop the whole pod in one piece without having to cut the pod and remove the seeds before chopping. Although the seeds represent approximately 70% of the total weight of the pod, there is no significant difference in flavor between chopping only the seeds and chopping the whole pod.
What does ground cardamom taste like?
According to Frisch, cardamom has a complex aroma and a piney, fruity, almost minty flavor. If too much is used, it can have a slightly astringent effect.
Where does cardamom grow?
Cardamom originated in southern India and is widely grown there, but most of the cardamom we buy in the United States comes from Guatemala. As it turned out, cardamom flourished in Guatemala, and the country has since become the largest producer of cardamom. What’s the best part? Almost all Guatemalan cardamom is exported, and it is hardly used in local cuisine.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, cardamom grows at high altitudes and is cultivated in the highlands of China, Laos, and Vietnam. Ground cardamom is the aromatic ground seeds that will be found in grounding cardamom pods.
Are there different types of cardamom?
You will find two main varieties of cardamom as black and green and two sub-varieties as yellow and white. Green cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is the most sold variety in the local spice market and the most exported from Guatemala. It is also the most used variety in Indian cuisine. It is suitable for sweet and savory dishes and can be used whole or ground. White cardamom is a bleached version of green cardamom, which is much less aromatic and is grown in warmer tropical climates. You can use cardamon as a whole or ground cardamon.
What can be done with ground cardamom?
This spice is suitable for both food and drink. It is a main ingredient in the chai spice blend and can therefore be used in chai lattes and chai masala. Want to tackle a bigger cooking project? Try making ground cardamom and pistachio kulfi (a traditional South Asian ice cream in the form of potato chips) or sweet potato and chickpea curry.
What is the difference between cardamom capsules and ground cardamom?
Whole cardamom pods contain clusters of hard, crunchy seeds that are usually crushed in a mortar and pestle to separate them from the outer skin. For some dishes, such as rice or baked goods, only the individual seeds are used. However, the whole crushed pod can be put in the kettle to release its full flavor and then strained with the rest of the loose tea and other spices.
Cardamom powder is made from dried and ground cardamom seeds; cardamom powder containing whole pods is usually of inferior quality. Since most of the aromatic essential oils in cardamom are contained in the seeds, they lose their effect fairly quickly after grinding, so it is best to use the powder as soon as possible after purchase.
Cooking tips with ground cardamom
Ground cardamom is used to flavor sweet and savory dishes. The pods are usually used whole. For flavoring, they can be heated in oil, which sometimes opens the pods and releases the seeds. The users are not capable to use the seed pods and they should be rejected before serving. You will be able to use ground cardamom in many dishes. You will gain ground cardamom by grinding the spice seeds.
How to grind seeds for making ground cardamom
If you need to grind a large number of cardamom seeds, you can do so in a food processor or coffee grinder. First, peel the seeds from the pod and grind them. You can also buy just the seeds (or even ground cardamom). If you only need a small number of seeds, they may be too few to grind in a food processor.
Grinding with a mortar and pestle
If you have a mortar and pestle, now is the time to get an old mortar and pestle. Put them in a mortar (bowl) and start crushing the seeds with the pestle. Keep pounding until the seeds are reduced to a fine powder, then continue with the recipe.
What are the health benefits of cardamom?
Cardamom is a spice that has been used for centuries in cooking and medicine. Cardamom was originally a common ingredient in Arabic and Middle Eastern cuisine but has recently gained popularity in the West.
Cardamom is obtained from the seeds of several plants that belong to the same family as ginger. It has a characteristic aroma that combines well with sweet and savory dishes. In addition to coffee and tea, you can use ground cardamom in curries, desserts, and meat dishes.
Ground cardamom can also be taken as a dietary supplement to promote health. Cardamom contains secondary plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Ground cardamom can be used in the form of:
- Whole pods with seeds in them
- Preground cardamom spice powder that manufacturers extract from the seeds.
- essential oil
- Herbal food supplement, usually in capsule form.
Scientists have conducted several small studies on cardamom, the results of which suggest that it has some beneficial properties.
What can ground cardamom be used for?
Ground cardamom seeds (cardamom powder) have a strong aroma, so they should be used sparingly. Like other ground spices, cardamom powder loses its flavor and aroma if stored for too long. It is advisable to buy it in small quantities or grind the seeds fresh before cooking.
Ground cardamom can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as in spice blends. It can be added to sweet rice pilaf, winter squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes. It can also be used in bakery products such as bread, cakes, and muffins.
Cardamom is often used in Indian and Scandinavian cuisine.
In Indian cuisine, it is an important ingredient in garam masala and chai masala. It is also used in sweet dishes, spicy curries, and various beverages.
In Scandinavian cuisine, it is used for fruit soups, baked apples, fruit competes, and gingerbread. It is also used in Swedish meatballs, traditional Swedish pulla bread, and julekake Christmas bread.
Ground cardamom is used as an ingredient in many spice blends, such as chai masala, pilau masala, spice blends, curry powders, etc.
In East Africa, it is used in fried pastes called mandasi and mahamri. The whole pods are used in the preparation of pilaf.
Freshly ground cardamom
Two reasons not to buy preground cardamom:
1) It is expensive
2) It has a shorter life expectancy than Bruce Willis.
3) It is tedious to grind it yourself, but the flavor and aroma are worth it.
4) Toasted tablespoon of pods yields about two teaspoons of ground cardamom.
I know what you’re thinking, and no, you can’t cut the whole pod. Unless you’re one of those people who doesn’t peel the ginger before grating it.
But who am I to judge? I grew up with Frito Pie.
Put the cardamom pods in a mortar (or simply place them on a cutting board) and crush them with a pestle and pestle to open the pods.
Arrange the split pods so that the shells can be removed and discarded. Don’t go crazy trying to collect all the shell fragments. This is enough.
The seeds are hard, so I didn’t put them back in the mortar, but in the spice grinder (the old Krups grinder that I kept for grinding coffee and now only use for grinding spices).
Take the lid off the grinder and watch as everyone within a 20-foot radius goes into ecstasy. Freshly ground cardamom is the most aromatic spice in the world and has been known to make me weep with joy.
Don’t give up on cardamom recipes because you think it’s too expensive. I bought 3-1/2 ounces of green cardamom pods at an Indian grocery store for $2.29. The pods last at least a year, maybe more.
As tempting as it is to shred a bunch at once, don’t do it. It will take away your sense of purpose.
And you don’t want to see them fall to the floor when you lift the lid of the spice grinder? This only happens when you grind the cardamom seeds directly from the pod.
If you have a recipe in which you use cardamom, share it with us; just leave a link in the comments.
Frequently asked questions about ground cardamom
What is the aroma of ground cardamom?
Ground cardamom has a complex and characteristic aroma. It has a minty, spicy, lemony flavor, with a hint of earthiness that is often associated with herbs. It is also very aromatic. Its flavor combines very well with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, and other aromatic spices.
How is ground cardamom used?
Ground cardamom is used in various sweet and savory dishes. It is found in various bakery products, cookies, bread, and other bakery products. It can also be used in combination with meat, fruit, legumes, and cereals. Some people even use it to flavor coffee, tea, and even alcoholic beverages. Its intense aroma can easily overpower the flavor of food, beverages, or baked goods.
Is cardamom useful in coffee?
Cardamom gives a sole flavor to your morning coffee. It adds a rich layer of spicy and floral aromas that perfectly complement the bitterness of the coffee. Ground cardamom or crushed cardamom capsules are added to coffee by boiling it in a saucepan with water or milk.
Why is ground cardamom so expensive?
The seed is the lone expensive spice in the world by weight. Only saffron, vanilla, and a few others are more expensive. One of the reasons for this high cost is the labor-intensive nature of harvesting. Cardamom pod is harvested by manually using hand when 75% ripe to realize its maximum value, but the harvesting process of other spices can be automated.
Each pod requires a lot of time and care, which explains its high cost. In addition, the typical yield of cardamom is between 50 and 150 pounds per field, which is quite low. The high demand for the limited supply of cardamom is reason enough for it to be so expensive.
Does cardamom tea contain caffeine?
No, cardamom tea does not contain caffeine. Moreover, it has the opposite effect. It can be used to neutralize the stimulating effect of caffeine and calm the nervous system.
Does cardamom taste like soap?
No, it is not. Unfortunately, the aroma of cardamom is a flavor that takes some getting used to. For some, it is a special and unique flavor that goes well with many dishes. Others, however, need a little more time to get used to the flavor, as it can be too strong.
What does cardamom look like?
If the recipe calls for cardamom but you do not have this ingredient, you can try using equal parts cinnamon and ginger.
What do we know about the difference between black and green cardamom?
Although green and black cardamom is of the same family, they belong to different genera. Green cardamom belongs to the genus Elettaria and black cardamom to the genus Amomum. Not only do they differ in appearance and aroma, but they are also harvested differently. Green cardamom is harvested before it is fully ripe, while black cardamom is harvested much later.
Can black cardamom be substituted for green cardamom?
Black cardamom and green cardamom have different flavors. The flavor of black cardamom is more intense. It also has a pronounced smoky flavor. Substitution of ingredients depends on the recipe. Black cardamom goes best with meat and savory dishes, it does not go well with desserts. In this case, try a combination of ginger and nutmeg.
Cardamom is an exotic spice. Many spice mixtures include ground cardamom as an ingredient. It has a pleasant lemon and ginger aroma and a spicy, slightly bitter note in the flavor. Cardamom combines well with other spices and complements a wide range of exotic and intense flavors and aromas such as cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla. It goes well with sweets, desserts, fruits, and also savory dishes. However, the most popular combination is coffee and cardamom.
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