Cardamom Pods: Maximizing Their Flavor in Your Cooking

  • cardamom pods Cardamom has been valued as a spice, a flavoring agent for thousands of years. Cardamom originated in southern India where its popularity has spread pretty much world wide. Today it is grown in a number of locations in Southeast Asia. Most of what is consumed in the Western Hemisphere is grown in Guatemala.

    The unique sweet spiciness of cardamom is carried primarily in the seeds found inside the pods. If you have ever purchased a bottle of ground cardamom in the spice section of the grocery store, know that you were not experiencing true cardamon richness when you lifted the lid. Most consumers who have bought ground cardamom have only done so once. The price is high. The impact is low.

    There is a good reason why the cardamom impact is lost in this sort of packaging. Cardamom pod contains small seeds that carry the real flavor. Once the pods are cracked and the seeds released, the flavor in the seeds is quickly lost. They simply do not maintain their freshness. The second reason for the lack of flavor in ground cardamom is that the pod and the seeds have been ground together and then bottled. So, besides losing the freshness of the seed, the flavor of the seed is watered down by the presence of a much less flavorful cardamom pod.

    Shop for a fresh crop of dried whole pods and crack them yourself when you are ready to use those fine little seeds. Buy only what you think you will use in six to nine months and then reorder.

    Keep your cardamom pods in glass jars with good-fitting lids. Store the jars in a cool, dark place like a pantry. The worst thing you can do is store them above your cooking area. The heat will take a huge toll on your purchase.

    Cardamon pods can be cracked open with a mortar and pestle. Then separate the seeds from the pods for maximum flavor. Another cracking possibility is to use a dedicated coffee bean grinder. This works well, but do not use a grinder that also grinds coffee beans or your spice flavor will be severely compromised.

    Separate the cardamom seeds from the pods when you are ready to use in cooking. It is a mistake to try to save seed for later. You will have lost a significant amount of your cardamom flavor.

    If you are using cardamom in soups, stews, and savory concoctions, then there is no need to separate the cardamom seed from the pod. You have two choices. You can throw the whole cardamom pod into the soup pot or you can crush it a bit before throwing it in. The pod will dissolve in the cooking process adding its own bit of flavor to the pot. The seeds that have been nestling inside the pod will be released to provide their spicy goodness to your dish. You just want to be certain that those cardamom pods are as fresh as possible.

    Cardamom adds a distinct flavor to drinks. Enjoy cardamon in tea and coffee for a great new flavor as well as for antioxidant value.

    Cardamom Pods in Tea
    Cardamom has been used in some traditional drinks for centuries. If you did not grow up in those traditions, you probably do not know the source of the flavor. Take, for instance, chai tea. For Westerners whose only experience with tea has been black tea, possibly with cream and sugar, a mulled tea is a whole new experience. Chai tea is a mulled combo that includes cardamom pod.

    The mulling process is necessary to extract the flavorful oils from the cardamom pod, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and other ingredients of chai tea. To mull, simply assemble your ingredients in a glass or enameled pot, cover with water and simmer the cardamom pod and other spices over a very low heat for at least thirty minutes.

    Using glass or enameled cookware is necessary because the cardamom and other spices may react with aluminum or stainless steel, discoloring the pot and tainting the mulled drink. After the mulling is complete, taste to see if you need to add more water. Always plan on your mulled concoction being stronger that you need. Water can always to added, but you can't play it the other way around.

    Strain out your cardamom, cinnamon, and other flavorful ingredients. Reheat the brew in the same pot and add a tea bag or two of a good black tea and let it brew for about five minutes. The number of tea bags you use will depend on how large an amount of drink you are making. Using one bag per two cups of brew is a good rule of thumb. Remove the tea bags after five minutes. You now have a caffeinated, spicy drink scented with cardamom pod, cinnamon stick, and other delectable items.

    Sweeten your tea to suit your personal preference and add cream. To keep the drink really hot, warm the cream before adding to your brew. Serve this in heavy mugs to keep the heat in. This is a cardamom drink to sip and enjoy. Keep it hot as long as possible.

    Here is a simpler idea for enjoying cardamom with your tea. Crush a couple of cardamom pods to release the seeds. Then crush the cardamom seeds just a bit. Place the cardamom seed in the bottom of your tea cup along with a bag of your favorite tea such as Irish Breakfast. Pour in boiling water and allow the cardamom and tea to brew for about ten minutes. Cover the cup with a saucer or something similar while the brewing process takes place. This maintains the heat and aids in releasing the cardamon oil from the seeds. Sweeten and cream as is your custom. It is amazing what flavor you can get from a cardamom pod.

    Cardamom Pods in Coffee
    cardamom pods In parts of North Africa cardamom pod has been ground with coffee beans to make a flavorful brew. The proportion of cardamom to coffee has been as much as forty percent. That would be a pretty expensive drink unless you were growing your own cardamom. But, you can give it a try on a small scale. Grind a couple of cardamom pods with enough beans for one cup of coffee. Brew up and try it out.