Green Cardamom Pods
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Access A Sense of Taste Adventure with Green Cardamom Pods

Green cardamom pods originate from plants that are indigenous to the southeastern parts of Asia and India. Over time, this delicate spice made its way to the West but is often still underutilized in cooking. 
 However, cooking with unfamiliar spices is the ideal way to sample global flavors. Using the green cardamom pod in cooking is also an excellent reason to access your sense of adventure by trying something new. But what are green cardamom pods, what do they taste like, and are there any substitutes? Here’s where you can learn about this uniquely flavored spice and how to add flavor to simple meals.

 

Cardamom origins

Green cardamom grows lusciously in higher altitudes, so it is a popular crop in the mountainous regions of Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Laos, and India. However, this crop has long been grown in Guatemala since being brought to this country by the Germans in the early twentieth century.

 

Like Arabica coffee, green cardamom plants thrive in mountainous regions, so Guatemala is a significant exporter of both products. However, despite cardamom thriving in this country, Guatemalans do not use this spice much.

 

What is a green cardamom pod?

Green cardamom pods grow on trees that reach approximately 10 feet in height. Each tree sports large leaves and white flowers with yellow edges and blue stripes. Once the flowers bear fruit, you get the green cardamom pod. The green cardamom pod has a pale green color with an unusual shape. Each pod is a combination of a triangular outer shell containing seed clusters arranged in a spindle shape, containing anywhere from eight to 16 seeds with a brownish hue. The shell is quite tough but reasonably easy to crush for use in cooking, or you can add it whole to the pot. Some cooks prefer to lightly roast the pods before adding them to a dish, but they are just as tasty in their original dried form. 

Differences between green and black cardamom pods

Cardamom does indeed come in more than one variety. In fact, there are two primary varieties of this spice---black and green. Additional cardamom pod types include the yellow and white sub-varieties. However, green cardamom is the spice that you will typically find in local stores. This spice is the one most commonly found in the West and most likely comes from Guatemala. When this variety (Elettaria cardamomum) is bleached, the white cardamom has a bland flavor. White cardamom also grows better in warmer, sub-tropical climates than the green and black cardamom, which thrive in cooler temperatures. 

 The other cardamom type is black (Amomum subulatum) or Nepal cardamom. Black cardamom pods also go by the name of longer, brown, larger, or greater cardamom.

 

Flavor expectations 

Cardamom shares similar characteristics to the ginger and turmeric species, of which it is a family member. Despite this connection, the cardamom flavor is unlike either of these spices. Green cardamom has a uniquely strong flavor and aroma. Some people describe it as having a taste that is similar to menthol, pine, or fruits.  Likewise, black cardamom has a flavor similar to camphor with smoky undertones. Black cardamom further emits a cooling effect like that of mint. 

While you can use the green cardamom as whole pods or seeds, only the black cardamom seeds are suitable for cooking. The taste of both these cardamom varieties is quite intense so use them sparingly in cooking to avoid an unpleasant acid flavor.

Don't have cardamom spice in the kitchen cupboard? No problem! You can substitute this distinctively flavored spice with either nutmeg or cinnamon.

Uses in cooking 
Even though green cardamom pods have an unusual flavor, they add a delicious nuance to most dishes in the kitchen. You can use cardamom in sweet and savory dishes and add it to beverages.

 

If you haven’t yet tried green cardamom pods in your food, here are several tips for experimentation:

  • Add whole green cardamom pods to meat or poultry dishes
  • Crush the cardamom pods and add this spice to improve the taste of the rice
  • Include this spice in a vegetarian curry with chickpeas as the hero ingredient
  • Indulge in a delicious kulfi which is an Asian ice cream dish, but add ground green cardamom pods and pistachio nuts
  • Because cardamom is one of the core spices in chai mixes, it perfectly complements many beverages such as tea. You can make your own masala chai or latte chai or even enhance the flavor of your next cup of coffee
  • Another use for green cardamom is adding it to vegetable dishes like potatoes or sweet potatoes

Essentially, you can buy green cardamom pods to flavor any food. So permit yourself to play with this spice because it is a delight in the kitchen. Also, when buying green cardamom pods, look past the price as you only need a small amount to flavor your food, making them last a long time.Green cardamom pods are freshly harvested in Guatemala and prepared ready for use. 





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