Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spices of the Season: Cardamom

Cardamom, Eletaria cardamomum, is a member of the ginger family and is grown mostly in India and Guatemala. It has a distinctively pungent flavor that is used in many cultures. Added to Turkish coffee, Arabs also use the green cardamom in meat and rice dishes. Scandinavians add the white to Christmas stollen, sweet breads and cookies. Cardamom is often an ingredient in curry as well. The white is treated to achieve that color, the Sulphur dioxide process is said to make it a milder flavor. The white is still fragrant and quite fun to use while crafting. The green is slightly more pungent. In either case the white or the green is the outer shell, the intense flavor comes from the tiny inner seeds. As with most spices, it is best freshly ground as ground cardamom loses its flavor quickly. I wish you had a scratch and sniff screen, ahh so fragrant, don't forget to add it to your spiced wine or cider too. And of course, it's an important ingredient in Chai.

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