Cardamon (Elettaria cardamomum L.)

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Family. Ginger – Zingiberaceae General 

It is a perennial tropical shrub that grows naturally in the moist forests of eastern India. It is currently cultivated as a herb in tropical areas of Indonesia, China, Sri Lanka, East Africa, and America. Cardamom originated in India and was spread from the Middle East to Europe by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The ancient Greeks and Romans valued it as a spice for fruit dishes because of its beneficial effects on the body. 

Botanical description 

The thick creeping rhizome produces 2-4 m tall vegetative stems and 1 m tall leafless inflorescences. Leaves are lanceolate, pale green, up to 70 cm long and 8 cm wide. A panicle of white-greenish flowers is formed at the apex of the inflorescence. The fruit is a trillium box filled with seeds. The fruit is 10-20 mm long. 

Cultivation and preparation 

Propagated by root division or by seedlings grown from seed. 

Harvested in the third year after planting. A good crop lasts 6 years. The plant flowers all year round, but the main flowering is in January-February and the fruit is collected from August to April. The cardamom fruit is difficult to collect because it ripens at different times, even within a single inflorescence. Harvesting begins when the fruit is not yet ripe to prevent the seeds from falling out. The dry fruit boxes are straw-colored, oval-triangular, tasteless, odorless, and woody. The cardamom is stored without separating from the boxes to prevent evaporation of the essential oil. Commercial varieties of cardamom are classified according to the place of collection. The most valuable are the Malabrian and Maisurian cardamom. The dried and ground fruit is used for spices. It is stored cool in a dark sealed container. 

Active ingredients 

Cardamom seeds contain 4-8% essential oil, 10% resin and Amidon, starch, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins B, C, PP, and other substances. The essential oil contains limonene, terpineol, their esters, and cineol. 

Therapeutic effects 

Cardamom stimulates digestion, promotes expectoration, drives off gas and sweat and has a positive effect on the stomach. It is one of the best and most non-hazardous stimulants of the digestive system. Cardamom affects the digestive, respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems. It awakens the lining of the stomach and lungs, arouses the psycho-emotional sphere, stimulates the mind and heart, and lubricates. It creates a sense of clarity and joy. 

Cardamom is considered by Indian medical practitioners to have a stimulating, warming effect and to relieve coughs. It also helps to reduce sweat and gas and regulates digestion. Indians use cardamom to treat colds, pneumonia, tuberculosis, bronchial asthma, inflammation of the vocal cords, loss of taste, loss of appetite, and poor absorption of food. In Indian medicine, cardamom is one of the best and most non-hazardous regulators of the digestive system, suitable for hypofermentosis, gastro-intestinal atony, gastritis, ulcers, and for the relief of belching, nausea, and vomiting. It does not cause annoying effects and can therefore be used without restriction. 

In Tibetan medicine, cardamom is considered to be a medicinal companion to the kidneys. It is rational to use it in the treatment of kidney, pancreatic, vascular, and digestive diseases. 

Cardamom tea is rarely used, but it is added to spirit extracts to improve digestion, reduce flatulence and stimulate the appetite. 

Cardamom is a good treatment for ischaemic heart disease and relieves pain in cardiovascular pathologies. It normalizes the blood supply to the walls of blood vessels and relieves spasms of blood vessels. Cardamom reduces thyroid activity in cases of increased thyroid function. It has a spasmolytic effect and facilitates expectoration in bronchitis. But most importantly, cardamom regulates gastric juices, stimulates the appetite, so to speak, strengthens the stomach. 

Cardamom powder can be used for treatment. 1 to 3 crushed boxes of the powder are consumed per day to improve appetite and eliminate flatulence. 

Use for spices 

Cardamom has a very strong, spicy, pungent, burning, camphor-like aroma and taste with a slight lemon tinge. Cardamom adds a special flavor to Christmas cookies, marzipan, gingerbread, fruit cakes, competes, and fruit dishes. It can be used to flavor pancakes, pastry, muffins with raisins, and sweet cakes with poppy seed filling. Eastern sweets are unimaginable without cardamom. Almond sticks, aubergines, green tomatoes, and walnut jams are made with it. In India, it is used to flavor carrot and beetroot challah, sweet vermicelli. Aficionados add finely ground cardamom to coffee, tea, mulled wine, and punch. It flavors liqueurs. Cardamom is particularly popular in Arab countries. It flavors tea and coffee. Cardamom not only enhances the flavor of coffee, but also gives it a savory aroma, reduces the arousing effect of coffee, prevents arterial pressure, and eliminates the negative effects on the stomach. Cardamom is not only used to flavor sweet dishes. Dishes flavored with cardamom not only have a savory taste but are also more easily absorbed. Cardamom enhances and flavors soups, especially milky soups, rice, and broth. It is added to cottage cheese, fruit salads, sauces, fish, and meat dishes. It flavors pork, lamb, veal, poultry dishes, chopped meat, beef goulash, and veal raft. Small quantities are added to good-quality sausages and ham. Cardamom is used to flavor meats cooked on skewers. 

Cardamom is present in the Indian spice curry and other spice mixtures. It combines well with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. 

However, as with all spices, care must be taken. 0,05 g of cardamom per serving is sufficient. For liquid dishes, half the amount indicated will be needed.

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