Uses, Benefits, and Recipes
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Cardamom is used to spice both sweet and savory dishes. It is widely employed in Indian, Middle Eastern, Arabic, and Swedish cuisine. It comes in two types and is used as whole pods, seeds, or ground. Cardamom is found in the garam masala spice mixture that seasons meat and vegetable dishes, and in hot beverages such as masala chai and Turkish coffee.
What Is Cardamom?
Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. Cardamom pods are spindle-shaped and have a triangular cross-section. The pods contain a number of seeds, but the entire cardamom pod can be used whole or ground. The seeds are small and black, while the pods differ in color and size by species.
Varieties of Cardamom
There are two main types of cardamom: black cardamom and green cardamom, and there is also white cardamom which is a bleached version of green cardamom. Green cardamom is the kind found most often in Nordic and Middle Eastern cuisine, while recipes in India and Asia will often specify whether green or black cardamom is used.
Green cardamom (Elettaria cardamomom) is known as true cardamom. This is the most common variety you will see sold in the spice aisle of the supermarket. It is the top choice for sweet dishes but also works well in savory dishes. The bleached version, white cardamom, has less flavor. It is grown in tropical areas including India, Malaysia, and Costa Rica.
Black cardamom (Amomum subulatum) has larger pods that are dark brown. It has a smoky element that makes it more appropriate for savory dishes, but it is used in sweet dishes as well in southern India. It is grown in the eastern Himalayas.
Cardamom is found in Indian cooking as well as Middle Eastern cuisine. In Indian recipes, whole cardamom pods are used in preparing basmati rice and various curries. In Middle Eastern recipes, ground cardamom spices certain desserts.
Whole vs. Ground
Recipes using black cardamom often call for using the whole pod, with the seeds intact. The pods are then discarded after cooking is done as chomping into the whole pod is unpleasant.
If you’re using green cardamom in a recipe, ideally you’d start with whole cardamom pods. If you buy ground cardamom (i.e. cardamom powder) from the spice section, it won’t be as flavorful since the essential oils of the cardamom seed will lose their flavor relatively quickly after the seeds are ground.
What Does It Taste Like?
Cardamom has a strong, sweet, pungent flavor and aroma, with hints of lemon and mint. Black cardamom has a smoky note and a cooling menthol one as well.
Cooking With Cardamom
You can use powdered cardamom added directly to recipes that call for ground cardamom, but you will get more flavor by starting with the pods. Toast green cardamom pods in a dry skillet for a few minutes. Let them cool for a minute and then remove the seeds from the pods. Save the pods to use for adding to coffee or tea for flavor. Grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle for best results, or you can use a motorized spice grinder (like a coffee grinder).
If you are using green cardamom for hot drinks such as coffee, simply grind three to four cardamom seeds along with your coffee beans and pour your hot water over as usual. Some traditions grind the whole pod, but it’s fine to use the seeds only.
Recipes With Cardamom
Interestingly enough, one of the countries that consume the most cardamom is Sweden, where cardamom is employed to season everything from baked goods to hamburgers and meatloaves. It matches well with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in autumn-spiced recipes, and these spices are also included with cardamom in Indian spice mixtures, such as garam masala. Drinks from mulled wine to hot cider to eggnog will benefit from an unexpected hint of cardamom.
- Basic Scandinavian Cardamom Dough
- Indian Roast Leg of Lamb
- Traditional Turkish Coffee recipe
It will be hard to find a true substitute for the unique flavor of cardamom, but in a pinch, you can blend other warm spices to help replace it. Cinnamon will be the key, and the best blend would be equal parts of ground cinnamon and nutmeg. If you don’t have nutmeg, use ground ginger or ground cloves along with the cinnamon.
Where to Buy
You can find green cardamom sold as ground cardamom and whole cardamom pods in the spice section of the grocery store. Black cardamom is best found at an international specialty grocer, and you will find green cardamom there generally at a much better price than the usual supermarket.
It is best to store cardamom as whole pods in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. Ground cardamom can be stored similarly, but will quickly lose potency and should be used as soon as possible.
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) hails from tropical India, Nepal and South Asia. What is cardamom? It is a sweet aromatic herb not only employed in cooking but also part of traditional medicine and tea. Cardamom is the third most expensive spice in the world and has a rich history of use in many countries as part of spice blends, such as masala, and as a crucial ingredient in Scandinavian pastries.
What is Cardamom?
An interesting and crucial piece of cardamom information is that the plant is in the Zingiberaceae family, or ginger. This can be seen in the aroma and flavor. The many uses for cardamom have made it one of the most sought after of the spices. This forest dwelling plant is a perennial, which grows from large rhizomes. Cardamom spice can successfully be grown in United States Department of Agriculture zones 10 and 11.
The cardamom plant is a 5 to 10 foot (1.5-3 m.) tall tropical plant that thrives in partial shade. The leaves are lance shaped and may grow up to two feet (0.5 m.) in length. Stems are rigid and erect, forming an inverted skirt around the plant. The flowers are tiny, but pretty, in either white with yellow or red but another form of the plant may also produce black, white, or red pods. The pods are crushed open to reveal tiny black seeds, the source of cardamom spice.
Once the seeds are crushed, they release powerful aromatic oils with flavor reminiscent of ginger, clove, vanilla, and citron.
Additional Cardamom Information
Among the many uses for cardamom in the United States and several other countries is in perfume. It is also used in curries and other spice blends, crushed in Nordic breads and sweets, incorporated into tea and coffee, and even used in Ayurvedic medicine.
As a medicinal, cardamom is traditionally used to treat insect and snake bites and as a cure for sore throats, oral infections, tuberculosis, and other lung issues, as well as stomach and kidney ailments. It also has potential to help with mental depression and some say it is a powerful aphrodisiac.
If you want to try growing cardamom to harness these possible benefits as well as its high manganese content, you will need to reside in a tropical climate with no freezing conditions or grow in containers that can be moved indoors.
Tips on Growing Cardamom
As an understory plant, cardamom prefers humus rich soil, slightly on the acidic side. Sow seeds approximately 1/8 under fine soil and keep the medium evenly moist. Transplant to pots when you see two pairs of true leaves. Grow on outdoors in summer or year round in warm regions.
Cardamom needs to stay moist and does not tolerate drought. In hot, arid regions, provide extra humidity through the leaves. Cardamom may flower 3 years after planting and the rhizomes can live for decades with good care.
Move plants indoors at the end of summer in areas with freezing weather. Place indoor plants where they receive 6 to 8 hours of bright but filtered light.
Transplant older plants every few years to prevent root binding. Cardamom is fairly easy to grow indoors but remember that mature plants can achieve up to 10 feet (3 m.), so choose a location with plenty of space for the plant to stretch out into.
Binomial Name: Elettaria cardamomum
Cardamom is among the more popular aromatic herbs used today, with the seeds adding a uniquely sweet quality to many popular commercial beverages and other products. More traditionally, this botanical has been enjoyed in its native India for thousands of years in a wide array of dishes, deserts and teas. Cardamom was so revered in Scandinavia that following the opening of trade routes between the two regions, it quickly came to define the flavor of many traditional Nordic breads and sweets.
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Perennial (zones 10-13)
14 days at 75° F
Rich, mildly acidic, loamy
Steady, low intensity
Elettaria cardamomum is native to tropic regions, and can grow to heights of 10′ or more, with the tall stems showing long, alternate leaves.
Cardamom is native to tropical regions, and should only be grown outdoors in hardiness zones 10-13, where minimum temperatures approximately 35 degrees or higher. It can be grown with care indoors or in a greeenhouse in zones 9 and lower, or overwintered carefully if grown in a large, deep container that can be moved indoors as needed.
Cardamom can reach heights of ten feet or more by the third year.
Prefers a rich, loamy, slightly acidic soil with a pH approximately 6.1-6.6. For best results, fertilize or amend soil with minerals phosphorus and potassium.
To sow, the smaller seeds should be sown in a light but rich starting medium buried shallowly beneath the surface of the soil (approximately 1/8″)
Cardamom requires a steady supply of moisture and will not tolerate drought. If growing in a greenhouse, it should be kept humid and maintained carefully. Cardamom is not tolerant of cold, but should be kept in a location with many hours of partially occluded sunlight.
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Growing cardamom takes time and patience, as plants take 3 years to reach maturity for harvest and can be finicky to grow. Grow more quickly and easily using rhizomes, or sow germinated seeds shallowly in your garden in fertile soil and partial shade. Keep cardamom plants watered thoroughly, misting plants as needed to replicate their natural, forest environment.
Harvest cardamom flowers for oils when seed capsules turn green, and harvest the seed capsules when they are dry and break easily. Gently remove seeds from broken capsules and store them in an airtight container in a dry, cool, dark place.
What is Cardamom Used For?
Cardamom is an has both culinary and medicinal uses. It’s an Indian-native shrub with relation to ginger, and is known as the “Queen of the Spices” to its Indian people. The black seeds of cardamom are used a spice that can be difficult to describe, but one thing is for sure: it provides an exceptionally unique taste to dishes.
The seeds can also be used as a palate cleanser between meal courses or as an after-meal mouth freshener. Arab-speaking nations use the seeds to grind to make a unique-tasting coffee, and it has become a traditional addition to many Nordic breads and sweets.
Cardamom has notable medicinal properties, making its oil one of the most popular. Its oils have valuable anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties that can curb common body aches and pains and aid in the digestive processes. It can also help treat ailments like bad breath, heart disease, sinusitis, constipation or diarrhea, and more.
Growing Cardamom from Seed or Rhizome
Cardamom can be grown from seed or rhizome, which are the root-like pieces of the cardamom plant that grow underground.
Balcony Garden Web suggests growing cardamom from rhizome, as it is usually easier than growing from seed. You can do this by using a sharp knife to cut the rhizome from the harvested cardamom plant. Ensure that the rhizome isn’t affected by disease from the mother plant, or it can transfer to the new plant. Only use rhizomes that have at least two growing stems.
Seeds take two to three months to germinate, and if not cared for properly, may never do so. To grow from seeds, first wash the seeds thoroughly in warm water to remove the coating. Allow them to dry fully, but keep them out of the sun.
Place an empty glass jar on a tray with a few inches of cold water. Put the seeds in the jar and allow the jar to sit in the cold water until it’s cold to the touch. Pour a nitric solution of 2.5% over the seeds and stir. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes, and drain the solution.
Rinse the seeds thoroughly in warm water in a strainer, then put them in a bowl with lukewarm water overnight. Make sure your garden area is prepared so you can plant them directly into your garden the following morning.
Preparing Your Garden and Planting Cardamom
Cardamom is a finicky plant, and needs the right conditions to thrive. The plants grow best in outdoor tropical conditions: humid, hot, and partially sunny. You may be able to grow cardamom indoors if you have a proper lighting and heat set up, or you can grow it in a greenhouse.
Cardamom needs partial shade or filtered sunlight, as it grows best under the shade of taller trees in its natural environment. Prepare a spot with rich, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH of 6.1 to 6.6.
Place seeds slightly below the surface of the soil, several inches apart. You can place a few seeds in each hole for better chance at germination, and thin out plants later, if needed. Water thoroughly after planting.
Caring for Cardamom
WildFilmsIndia shows how cardamom is cultivated in its native land:
Cardamom takes more care than many other things in your garden, especially in terms of watering. Keep plants well-watered, and mist the plants if needed to keep them slightly cooled.
If you live in a location with cold winters, you’ll want to plant cardamom in containers so you can move them indoors for the winter, as they won’t tolerate cold temperatures or freeze. Make sure they are in a location where they’ll receive at least 6 to 8 hours of filtered sunlight, like that from partially-opened window blinds or shades.
The Spice Series suggests feeding your cardamom plants bi-weekly with fish emulsion or phosphorus and potassium as needed. These help provide optimal nutrients for your cardamom to thrive.
Since cardamom is finicky with its water and sunlight needs, it can be difficult not to overwater the plants or give them too little sun. In these conditions, though, cardamom can develop several diseases caused by bacteria and fungi that reproduce in warm, watery conditions.
Capsule rot causes lesions on cardamom plants, making the plant wilt and producing a pungent odor. A fungus caused by overwatered, poorly draining soil lays dormant until it activates in optimal warm, wet weather conditions. If your plants suffer from capsule rot, give the plants less shade and more sun, and bump down the watering schedule slightly.
Damping-off, or rhizome rot, can also kill off your cardamom plants by the fungus that thrives in similar conditions as capsule rot. Remove any infected plants and rhizomes, and treat the garden area with a fungicide.
Harvesting and Storing Cardamom
Cardamom can take about three years to grow to maturity, producing its seed-containing capsules. You can harvest the flower buds when the seed capsules turn green to dry or extract oils from. Dry them on screens for 7 to 10 days, turning them frequently.
Once seed capsules dry out and break easily, you can harvest them from the plant. Carefully break open the seed capsules and shake them on a screen to remove the seeds over a bowl. You can store the seeds in an airtight container in a dry, cool location away from sunlight.
Growing Cardamom (Elaichi)
Cardamom is the world’s most expensive spice. It is popular all over the world due to its unique taste and aroma. Cardamom is native to India and Sri Lanka, it is grown in the south-west mountains of India. It prefers a very hot and humid climate, if you live in the US Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 10 to 13, you can grow cardamom plants. This plant requires an average temperature of 10 ° C. In their native habitat they grow to 8–15 feet. Learn How to Grow Cardamom (Elaichi), Growing Cardamom from seeds, cardamom spices plant, pests, and disease advice by our experts. However, it has some difficulty in growing, so see the tips below.
Overview of Cardamom plant
Scientific name Elettaria cardamomum
Common name Cardamom, Elaichi
Plant type Spice plant
Sun requires Filtered sunlight or partial shade
Flower colors Yellow or red
Soil well-drained, sandy loam soil
In India, it is called by various names. Elaichi in Hindi, elakki it in Kannada, yelakulu in Telugu, Velchi or veldoda in Marathi elakkai in Tamil, Elaichi in Punjabi, and maland elakka in Malayalam.
How to Grow Cardamom
Soil and Location
Cardamom plants prefer well-drained, sandy, and loam soil, never grow cardamom in rich soil consisting of organic matter. Its plants require slightly acidic soil and can tolerate a pH level of soil between 4.5 and 7. Cardamom plants prefer filtered sunlight or partial shade, so the full sun should be avoided. It grows up to 2 – 4 meters in filtered sunlight of large tree canopy.
The best time to sow cardamom plants in June -July, at this time the monsoon is light moisture and cloudy. If you want to sow cardamom seeds, the method of planting is given below. The method of applying its rhizome is like ginger. Mature sucker, which has at least one young growing shoot, can be planted in prepared soil (in which water can drain easily). Fill the remaining pit with soil after planting. Elaichi plants require full shade and lots of water. It is colder sensitive than ginger.
- Take the seeds out of a special shell to allow the seeds to germinate easily.
- Pour 2.5% nitric acid solution in a glass tumbler, add seeds to it and stir for about 2 minutes. Now pour the seeds in a sieve and then wash them thoroughly with water.
- Place the washed seeds in the bowl and cover by adding lukewarm water and leave it overnight. Now your seeds are ready for planting.
You can also grow cardamom plants by division. For this, its rhizomes also have to be divided, which are about a year old and have two growing stems.
Cardamom plants are tropical, hence preferring hot and moist climate. It grows well in humid or very humid subtropical regions. It can tolerate a minimum temperature of 17 ° C and a maximum temperature of 40°C to grow it, but the average temperature of 25° C day is ideal. spices
Cardamom plants grow in rainforest areas where most of the rainfall is around 200 days a year. This is the reason why the soil of the plant is always kept moist. When the plant is bearing fruit, irrigation is necessary for further production to avoid drought in the summer season, as the flowering and fruit set begins in the plant at this time. You can provide good irrigation at an interval of 10-15 days till the onset of monsoon.
In this spices plant, fertilizer can be divided and feed into two doses. The first dose is feed during May. This helps in the development of new stems fruit capsules. Take the second dose at the end of September, it helps in the introduction of panicle and sucker. Apply fertilizer around the plant and cover it with a thin layer of soil. An NPK fertilizer containing a high amount of phosphorus or organic manure like animal manure is recommended. Apply about 5 kg of organic manure every year.
Growing Cardamom from seeds
- Buy cardamom seeds from a good seed shop. Although you can buy cardamom from the grocery store, you can get cardamom seeds, but buying seeds from the seed store is good. These seeds are more likely to grow.
- If you want to sow cardamom seeds then it is necessary to prepare its seeds before planting, there is a mucilage on its seeds, to separate it, pour its seeds in lukewarm water and wash it well, then place it in the shade Leave to dry.
- To sow cardamom seeds, choose a container of 1 foot deep and 6-7 inch width. Spread a piece of broken clay pots on the surface of the container or on the gravel surface and add some sand to the loam soil, allowing the water to drain properly.
- With the help of a finger in the container, push the seeds in the soil about 1/8 inch deep, and cover with light soil. Slowly water the seeds, so that the soil remains moist. Plant the seed about 1 inch apart in the container, so that it can be easily thin planted.
- When some leaves grow in the cardamom plant, then transfer it to another place. It takes about 90 days for plantation to mature.
- If you want to plant in the garden, the soil should be well-drained. Not much rich soil is needed, it will kill the plant, the pH level of soil between 4.5 and 7 is ideal.
- Cardamom plants (elaichi) will not be able to tolerate sunlight; for this, choose a location with partial shade. Its plants grow well under trees. Read also.
*Prepare fresh cardamom seeds for planting success. Wash the seeds with lukewarm water and remove the mucus, and allow the seeds to dry in the shade.
The cardamom plant requires about 3 years for its mature capsule production. Capsules develop after the flowers mature in their plant and dry out after a time. When the green color of the capsule starts to become olive green, it becomes collectible, dries on the screen in about 7-8 days, and shrinks. spices
Problems with Cardamom spices
Cardamom spices plants are affected by diseases such as viruses, fungi, and bacteria, however, it is possible to diagnose this problem. Katte viral disease mainly affects it, it can be treated, but you can prevent it by planting germ-free healthy seedlings. Disease affected rhizome should be avoided from planting. Due to fungal diseases, spots appear on the leaves of the plant, if you provide adequate shade to the plant, you can control it.
Read also: How to grow Pansy flowers . Poppies growing tips. Bottle gourd growing and care tips. Calendula growing guide. How to grow Croton in containers. 10 Uses of Vinegar in the garden . Growing Golden Creeping Jenny . Growing Black peppers in containers. Coriander Growing and care in containers. Celery growing in containers. Coriander Growing and care in containers. Plumeria growing and caring guide. 9 Easy growing Herbs for your garden. Growing Peanuts at home. Carnation growing and caring tips. Bleeding hearts flowers growing tips. Kiwi fruit growing in containers.
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Cardamom is a plant in the ginger family. It is native to tropical regions, and the seeds are often used in Indian cooking. In order to grow cardamom, its native tropical environment should be duplicated as closely as possible. The plant needs moist soil in a warm environment with filtered sunlight. Cardamom plants will not survive in cool environments, but they are easily adapted to growing in containers placed in warm locations. Specific fertilizers also encourage growth.
These plants do best in locations with temperatures at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). They can survive in slightly warmer temperatures, but they do not tolerate cooler environments. In order to grow a cardamom in cooler locales, it should be planted in a container that is kept indoors. An ideal location for a cardamom plant is in a bathroom, where it will benefit from the warmth and high humidity.
Cardamom plants can grow up to 12 feet (3.6 meters), so any container used to grow them needs to be able to handle a large plant. The container should be placed in an area that receives filtered or indirect sunlight as cardamom plants will not thrive in direct sun. When planting a cardamom outdoors, it needs a location that is constantly shaded. The best soil in which to grow a cardamom is a rich soil that holds moisture as these plants like their roots to be constantly wet. The soil should be mildly to strongly acidic.
Cuttings or seedlings should be planted in the soil at the same depth they were previously grown. Seeds should be planted 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) deep. The soil should be thoroughly moistened after planting. Cardamom seeds are very slow to germinate and may take up to two months to sprout.
Once planted, the soil around the cardamom plant needs to be watered often. The soil should never be allowed to become dry. Foliage growth can be encouraged by fertilizing the plant with a high-nitrogen, low-potassium fertilizer. Indoor plants should be fertilized less often than outdoor plants.
The leaves, sometimes used for wrapping foods, can be harvested at any time. Cardamom seeds are used as a spice in cooking. The cardamom plants must be three years old before they begin producing their signature seed pods. The seeds are removed from the pods after the pods have dried. The pods can be left on the plant to dry or removed and placed on paper towels to dry more quickly.
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Thanks for the detailed post. One of my favorite spices is Cardamom. It can be used in both sweet and spicy dishes and adds a lot of flavor to them.
I recently purchased a jar of cardamon seeds but once I got them home I realized I didn’t really know what to do with them. Is anyone out there a cardamon expert? Do I use them whole or am I supposed to crush them up? And if I do crush them up, what is the easiest way to do that? Thanks! whiteplane August 25, 2011
I have a good friend who has a large atrium right in the center of her house. She has four different cardamon plants growing in her atrium and all of them are over 10 feet tall.
This is a striking sight but more than that it gives her entire house the aroma of cardamon. I personally think it is kind of overpowering but she swears she loves it. I guess you would have to to keep that many plants around. backdraft August 24, 2011
I love to cook Indian food and I’ve found that I get the best flavor and value by growing my own cardamon seeds.
It took me a while before I was able to get a successful crop. I live in the south and assumed it would be warm enough but I still have to grow mine indoors.
I lost a few plants in the beginning trying to get the soil composition right and the watering schedules.
But once I got the hang of it it started growing like crazy and now it produces far more seeds than I can use in my cooking. I have found that these are a lot more aromatic than anything you can find in the store and I don’t pay a thing.
Today we have brought a very special article for all the backyard farmers. You’d have tried growing tomatoes, Chilli or pumpkins in your backyard, but ever though about growing Cardamom ? Sounds daunting, doesn’t it !
Growing plants brings within us an essence of mother nature. So we decided to help you connect with the great mother (and save your pocket from a large dip when purchasing Cardamom !)
The little spice also known as ‘ELAICHI’ is third most expensive spice after Vanilla and Saffron. It is among the most desired of the spices in the entire spice market and among the spice suppliers and spice manufacturers in India.
It is one of the oldest spice and has a strong, pungent taste, with intense aroma and coolness quite similar to mint. This little spice is used in many food items and even in drinks due to its rich taste and coolness.
India produces maximum cardamom and most cardamom manufacturers in India are from southern states like Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. These states possess a perfect climate for growing cardamom.
Ever wondered how much does the cultivation of green cardamom cost to the farmers ?
So what if we can grow this little spice at home, in the soil of our on backyard ? We can smell the aroma the whole time from the backyard, get fresh cardamom whenever we like !
But slow your horses – It takes time (2-3 Years) and efforts to grow an exotic, most sought spice across the world, to glitter in our backyards !
So let’s dig the soil and get ready to grow some Elaichi !
What we need :
- Cardamom seeds
- Small Container
- Watering Can
- Organic Fertilizer with high phosphorus
- Coco Peat/ Potting Soil
- Large Container (for later use)
Take a glass of water and add Cardamom seeds in that. Leave it for 24 hours.
Get some Cardamom and remove seeds from inside carefully so that none of the seeds get damaged or worn out.
Now you will notice the seeds will be soaked properly in water.
Take a small container and add some soil and sand in it. After forming a layer of soil and sand sprinkle some water on it and create a layer of coco peat on it.
Again sprinkle some water and spread the soaked seeds on the layer of coco peat gently. After laying the seeds sprinkle water again and cover the seeds with some more coco peat and water.
Make sure that the seeds are at least 1 cm deep then only they can be nourished properly.
Wait until the cardamom sprout few leaves. It will take approx 30-45 days.
Provide the plant proper amount of sunlight and water. Too much sunlight or water can damage the plant so take precautions regarding those.
Approximately after 90 days, the plant will be suitable to be transferred to a bigger container or you can sow the plant in your backyard directly.
Make sure you don’t place the plant in direct sunlight, it damages the plant. Instead, place the plant in partial shade where the soil is humid.
Get the plant and transfer it in a bigger space.
Add fertilizer twice every month to the plant so it remains nutrient-rich.
Now, wait until you start to reap what you sow – Don’t be impatient ! It shall take approximately 2-3 years of care, nurture, patience and faith to see the bright, gem like cardamom shining in the soil.
After 2-3 years you will observe the flowers bearing fruits. Pluck one and check whether it breaks easily or not. If the fruits break easily then it is ready to harvest.
Now dry them in direct sunlight and your homemade elaichi is ready. The plant will continue to grow regularly.
Growing Elaichi or Green Cardamom in our backyards is a matter of patience and continuous efforts. Cultivating Cardamom on a large scale is even more challenging , since there are no tools available for extracting Cardamom after it’s grown.
Spice manufacturers and suppliers of spices pay an awful lot of money to the farmers of Cardamom due to the involved labor and patience that they hold.
Cardamom thrives in tropical climates and grows prolifically in India. Meaning this is a bit of a stretch in the UK, so here are my tips to get the most out of this endearing evergreen perennial.
Cardamom will establish itself in a loam based soil in the UK with plenty of dappled sunshine. It will require moisture in the air and a Tropical climate to produce fruit and reach its full potential. Achieving a height of 1.5-2m and a spread of 1.5-2 metres it can be a useful ground cover for many South facing gardens.
There is a lot to like about the foliage of cardamom, mainly that it is not susceptible to many pests or diseases.
How To Grow Cardamom
From the Zingiberaceae Family and Elettaria Genus, Cardamom grow shoots from long rhizomes. These are very similar to ginger and similarly can be grown initially from seed and then from division. In the UK it will be difficult to recreate the tropical conditions required for flowering without a heated greenhouse.
How To Grow Cardamom From Seed
We first saw cardamom growing wild when we went out to Tanzania, growing in the partial shade of larger trees, however we always wanted to know if we could grow it in pots in the UK. The two main ways to get started are by buying specialist seeds – can you grow cardamom from supermarket seeds? No, they are not suitable as they may have been sprayed with suppressant if they are designated to be eaten, organic seeds will still not offer you the yield you may want.
You can buy Green Cardamom Plant Seeds (Elettaria Cardamomum) from reputable online sellers through Amazon. Or through specialist online nurseries.
- You will need to prepare your cardamom seeds 24 hours before planting out. If you are planting outside you will need to wait until 6-8 weeks before fear of frosts has passed.
- Some people swear by placing your cardamom seeds in 2.5% nitric acid solution for a few minutes, before rinsing and soaking in water overnight. We have seen success without using the acid mix first. Simply place your seeds in lukewarm water and let them soak overnight.
- In the morning you will see that the cardamom seed kernel has engorged and the germ will have been awaken. If you are planting outside plant each seed between 1/2 an inch to an inch apart. 1/8 inch deep in prepared hummus rich soil. Choose a dappled area, under a tree canopy is ideal as cardamom flourish in partial shade. If you are planting in pots keep to at least 1 inch apart to allow for thinning out once germination has occurred.
- Cardamom seeds take anywhere between 20-40 days to germinate. This can be frustrating as some will go quickly, making you think you have only a low percentage germination. Patience will pay off and keep the soil moist and consistently warm for best results. We use a heated propagator in the UK.
- Once the seedlings have emerged you can spritz with warm water to recreate the humid conditions of its native environment of Southern India. Keep the soil moist at all times. A good mulch or green manure prior to growing will really help with this process.
- When the seedlings are large enough to handle thin out the weaker ones and allow for the eventual room to grow to around 10 feet in height. This will take a few years but the ground cover comes pretty quickly with plants growing to fill about 2m space.
- When the temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius bring your container grown cardamom indoors. If it is outdoors it will not require cutting back but overwintering by using straw or grass as a mulch to cover rhizomes and the base of the plant. Make sure to remove when Spring emerges and replace with new nutrient rich mulch.
- In the second year division of the rhizome will be possible and it is one way to reduce clumping around the roots. Cardamom will really respond well to division and this can reduce the chance of disease and pests taking hold too. We keep cardamom as houseplants and using division makes for an unusual gift for friends as well.
How Long Does Cardamom Take To Grow?
Germination will take place 20-40 days from planting the seeds. However, harvesting of seeds and pods will be possible in the second year of growth. Peak harvest for pods is between October – November. Even more important is that it will take between 5-10 years for the plants to reach full maturity and the eventual height of around 2 meters or 10 foot roughly.
Factor this into your garden landscaping as it will be a great plant to grow underneath younger trees to produce a carpet, but as it can exceed growth of the tree within 5 years you may need to plan ahead. It is an unusual herb to grow but a very worthwhile one.
Cardamom is an expensive spice for many of the same reasons as saffron is. The labor intense harvesting will require many hours work all within the optimal time frame in October and November. It is certainly a very useful spice and has a place in most well stocked spice racks. Unlike saffron you will find it hard to grow fruit in the UK, therefore this herb plant is more grown for its ornamental leaves and wonderful evergreen perennial properties.
The seeds from cardamom are not just used for culinary purposes and the oils are used in many different medicinal treatments as well.
In US agricultural zones 10-13 cardamom will thrive and it will be possible to grow the seed pods. If you have a hot house or orangery you will get similar results in the UK. Dappled sunlight is the key and using an LED lamp can make all the difference. As well as a water mister. The cardamom plant produces very pleasing white, pink or even orange flowers prior to pollination and the seed pods appearing.
Can You Eat Cardamom Leaves
You can eat the leaves of the cardamom plant and they can be harvested all year round. We think they taste like celery and cinnamon and therefore make a great addition to a herbal tea. We will also use them as part of a bouquet garni in stews, remember that the texture of the leaf is harsh and you would want to avoid eating it, in much the same way as you would bay leaves.
I would recommend growing cardamom plants taken as younger plants, rather than just trying from seed. Don’t worry if you are thinking ‘where can I buy cardamom plants in the UK?’ You will find that Suttons sell a 12 cm high potted plant which will grow to fill a large pot in your conservatory or you can plant out that year and then use division to fill the garden!
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