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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cardamom - Queen of all Spices

(Otto Carl Berg & Carl Friedrich Schmidt, Leipzig, 1858-1863)

Cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum, also known as Malabar or Ceylon cardamom grows wild in the Ghat Mountains of the Malabar Coast, southwestern India and on Sri Lanka. It is a perennial, up to 6 meters tall (~20 ft.) plant with flower stalk that is only a one meter high. The seedpod is a centimeter long capsule containing up to 20 seeds. The harvesting (the seedpods need to be harvested individually) and growing cardamom is very labor intense making Cardamom the second most expensive spice in the world.
Cardamom was considered as a cure against obesity and dysuria already more than 3000 years ago. It has long been famous as an aphrodiasiac. It was imported to Greece by the fourth century B.C. Romans started to use the spice in cooking.
India and Guatemala are the biggest cardamom producers today.
The traditional Indian cuisine consumes ca 50 % of world's production and the second 50 % of the modern cardamom consumption is divided between Near East (Saudi-Arabia) and Nordic Countries led by Sweden and Finland. Arabs use Cardamom in coffee, west Europeans use it in sweet pastries; they also mix it with hamburger meat, meat loaf and sausage meat. Cardamom is also an important part of the Danziger Goldwasser, mulled wine and glögg.

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