Cardamom is known for its versatility. Although you cannot harvest seeds in this country, we will show you how you can grow the exotic ornamental plant yourself to obtain the leaves that can also be used.
Cardamom is a very special spice that quickly makes us want to travel to South Asia. In this article, you will learn everything about the uniquely flavorful capsules, their origin, planting, and the use of cardamom.
Cardamom: origin and properties of the spice
Cardamom ( Elettaria cardamomum ) belongs to the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) and is therefore not only related to ginger ( Zingiber Officinalis ) but also close to turmeric ( Curcuma longa ) and galangal ( Alpinia officinarum ). The thick-rooted tropical perennial comes from the front Indian Himalayan area and is now also commercially grown on a large scale in Tanzania, Thailand, Guatemala, and Honduras. The plant reaches a stature height of up to 3 meters and usually thrives in the penumbra to the shade of tropical forests.
The lanceolate leaves of the cardamom are bushy and resemble palm fronds in their arrangement. Similar to ginger, thick rhizomes are formed in the soil to survive. The white cardamom blossom is very reminiscent of an orchid, with some blue stripes and yellow edges of the petals. This is where the triple capsule fruits used as a spice develop, each containing 15 to 20 angular, brown seeds.
The seeds contain almost all of the flavoring power of the capsules. The seed pods are harvested immature and dried directly, sometimes also bleached. The spice is one of the most expensive spices in the world after saffron (Crocus sativus ), vanilla ( Vanilla sp.) And nutmeg ( Myristica fragrans).
Note: Incidentally, the spice is often pronounced “cardamom”. Since the name ( Elettaria cardamomum) comes from Latin, the correct spelling is “cardamom”.
Different types of cardamom
When it comes to cardamom, most people think of light green capsules. However, there is also a type of black cardamom. We introduce the types used as spices.
You might so like: Growing Marjoram: At Home In The Garden And Balcony
The black cardamom ( Amomum subulatum ) is a separate species within the ginger family and has deep brown, almost black seed pods, which are also larger than those of conventional cardamom. The taste of black cardamom is smoky and tart, it is often used in Sri Lanka for seasoning and for making liqueurs.
White or green cardamom
White cardamom is the name given to the unripe harvested, bleached seed pods of conventional cardamom, which are pale beige in color. The best quality, however, has dried cardamom without further processing with the typical, pale green capsules. Its taste is milder than that of black cardamom and has no smoky note. They divided the way into the two used as spice variants Malabar cardamom (Elettaria cadamomum var. Cardamomum) and the less popular Ceylon cardamom (Elettaria cadamomum var. Major).
Planting cardamom: site conditions
The warmth-loving cardamom plant can only be kept as a houseplant in our latitudes. Seeds cannot be harvested here, but the leaves also have the typical cardamom taste and smell aromatic. This is because the cardamom needs consistently high temperatures of around 25 ° C and a long exposure time, which is only found in the tropics. The tropical spice does not come into bloom with us. The plant can be kept very well in the house, as it also gets along well with partial shade and more shady places. It does not need direct sunlight and does not tolerate it very well.
Cardamom plants do not grow outdoors here, because they come from the tropics and cannot tolerate temperatures below 15 ° C. The plants should therefore be kept in pots and placed outside in summer at most, but then in partial or partial shade. As soon as the night temperatures fall below the minimum temperature in autumn, the cardamom must be brought into the house and overwintered there is a bright and warm place.
You can grow your own houseplant from fresh cardamom pods. The seeds contained in it are soaked in lukewarm water for about 24 hours and then sown in nutrient-poor soil, such. The cardamom seeds should only be covered with a little substrate and kept well moist. Older seeds from the spice rack do not germinate very well, so you should purchase fresh seeds for sowing. At 20 to 25 ° C and in a light, but not sunny location, the first cardamom plants germinate after two to three weeks. After a few weeks, they can be pricked out and converted into more nutrient-rich soil.
You might so like: Growing Saffron Crocus: Planting, Care And Use
If you already have a cardamom plant, the thick rhizome can be divided in the spring after wintering. As with ginger, you divide the thickened root together with the fine roots into several pieces with sleeping buds and put them in their own pots. As many of the fine white fine roots as possible should be preserved so that the cardamom plant can grow quickly in the pot and form fresh sprouts.
Cardamom care: repotting, fertilizing, and watering
The expensive spice plant should be repotted annually to provide enough space for its rhizome. This can be done from spring to autumn. To repot the cardamom, a larger planter is first filled with a drainage layer and then with nutrient-rich potting soil. After carefully removing the plant, it is placed in the new pot. The rhizome is covered with earth, lightly pressed, and watered well.
This is added to the irrigation water about every two to three weeks and so served when watering. This ensures a constant but gentle supply of nutrients, which prevents deficiency symptoms such as yellow leaves and supports the growth of the cardamom. At the same time, the liquid fertilizer comes to you in sustainable packaging.
Tip: Fertilizing with a liquid fertilizer in the irrigation water saves time and is easy to do. Organic indoor and green plant fertilizer provides your indoor plants with all the important nutrients.
Cardamom is only wintered indoors and must be above 15 ° C. In the cold season from October to March there is no fertilization and only little watering, as the plants hardly absorb any water and the root ball tends to rot if too much moisture can be retained for a long time. You just have to make sure that the root ball does not dry out completely.
Tip: Container plants often have to struggle with pests, especially in winter quarters. Many pests can multiply rapidly in our warm living spaces and also find no natural enemies. Typical pests on cardamom in the house are mealybugs or mealybugs, which form a white, fluffy ball of excretions from the back armor and feed on the sap.
Cardamom: uses, taste, and effects
The taste of cardamom can be described as slightly bitter to flowery-sweet and spicy-fiery. The young leaves also taste sweet and spicy, while older leaves become incredibly bitter and no longer tempting to be eaten.
As a spice, cardamom is particularly popular not only in its home countries in South Asia. In Sweden, around a quarter of world production is consumed in the form of the delicious “Kardemumma Bullar”, a variant of the well-known cinnamon bun. Mixing some freshly ground cardamom with coffee increases the effect of the caffeine.
Cardamom can be baked, ground or infused hot as pure cardamom tea or enjoyed as part of traditional chai tea. Now and then you can chew whole capsules of cardamom against bad breath and thus even counteract tooth decay. Cardamom powder should be consumed as quickly as possible, as it quickly loses its flavor. The best way to store the whole capsules in airtight containers for about a year without any loss of taste.
Cardamom is a healthy spice that has always been used in Ayurvedic healing. The seeds are said to have heart and stomach tonic, antispasmodic and antiseptic effects. Discover other exciting exotic houseplants such as pineapple in our special article.