Elettaria cardamomum

Elettaria cardamomum

The true cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum (L.) Maton) is a perennial, pungent, aromatic, herbaceous plant, which can reach a height of about 2-4 m from which a spice is obtained.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view Cardamom belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Tracheobionta Subarrange, Spermatophyta Superdivision, Magnoliophyta Division, Liliopsida Class, Zingiberidae Subclass, Zingiberales Order, Zingiberaceae Family and therefore to the Elettaria Genus and to the E. Cardamomum Species.

Etymology –
The term Elettaria derives from the Tamil language and means leaf granules; the epithet Cardamomum is a Latinization from the Greek καρδάμωμον cardámomon (formed by κάρδαμον kárdamon watercress and from ἄμωμον amomon probable name of an Indian spice).

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Elettaria cardamomum is a plant distributed between Iran, India and Malaysia. From this plant we obtain the cardamom or true cardamom.

Description –
The Elettaria cardamomum is a perennial herb, pungent, aromatic, up to about 2-4 m tall. it has alternate leaves in two rows, linear-lanceolate, 40-60 cm long, with a long pointed tip. The flowers are white to lilac or pale purple, produced in a loose end portion of 30-60 cm in length. The fruit is a three-sided yellow-green pod, 1-2 cm long, containing between 15 and 20 black and brown seeds.

Cultivation –
The cultivation of cardamom, in temperate climates and outside the countries of origin is quite delicate. This plant is often found or used as an ornamental species, because it resists well in the apartment and therefore in pots. The ideal cardamom temperature is around 20 degrees, while it does not last below 10 degrees. It prefers a preferably acid and draining soil with a sunny position. For the cultivation technique, see the following sheet.

Uses and Traditions –
The fruit of cardamom looks like a capsule containing many small seeds of brown-black color. In Middle Eastern cuisine, Iranian, Turkish and Indian cuisine is used to flavor sweets and spice blends. Find its use also in Finnish cuisine. The green cardamom has an intense and strongly aromatic taste from which the black cardamom is more astringent, slightly bitter and with a hint of mint. In India, black cardamom seeds are often an important component of garam masala and to flavor rice. In China they are used to flavor roasted meat dishes and in Vietnam they are used as an ingredient in the soup for noodle soup. Although the taste is quite different, black cardamom is often used as a substitute for green cardamom because it is much cheaper. It is also used in traditional oriental medicine.

Preparation Mode –
The seeds are used as spices; as they lose their aroma very quickly, the whole capsule is generally stored and sold, generally dried. The capsule is broken and the seeds used loose or ground only at the time of use.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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