This tropical perennial herb is often used during the cooking process in India, Nepal, the Middle East, and Sweden. This spice, known as the Queen of the spices, has been used in southeast India for over 4,000 years. The Vikings brought cardamom to Sweden.
The seeds found within the plant’s small, thin pods are used to create this spice. The green pods are triangular shaped and have a paper-like outer covering. Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It is the spice that gives chai its distinctive flavor. When crushed, the seeds release aromatic oils with a scent similar to ginger, clove, vanilla, and citrus.
Botanical name: Elettaria cardamomum
USDA Hardiness Zones: 10 and 11
Sun exposure: Part shade
Cardamom can be grown from seed or by division. Purchase seeds from a seeds supplier instead of using some from your pantry. They may not germinate. Soak the seeds in water overnight before planting them to improve the germination rate.
Sow the seeds directly in your garden or in a container. Plant seeds about an inch apart and cover them lightly. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll need to bring the plants indoors during the colder months. Cardamom seeds have a slow germination rate of between 20 and 40 days.
Make sure the plants are growing in a partially shady location and keep the soil evenly moist. Mature cardamom plants can reach between 5 and 10 feet in height. The large leaves can grow up to two feet long. The tiny flowers are white with yellow or red stripes. Cardamom plants don’t flower until they are at least three years old.
Divide the rhizomes produced from plants that are at least a year old to create more plants. Plants that have become root bound in a container are less likely to flower. Bring plants indoors if the temperature is predicted to drop below 45 degrees F.
Cardamom flowers appear at the base of the plant. The resulting seed pods are ready to be harvested 30 to 40 days after the plant flowers. Harvest the seed pods before they fully ripen and split.
Check to see if the seeds have turned from black to white before harvesting all the pods. When the seed pods are almost ripe, they should easily pull away from the plant. Harvest the lower pods first.
Wash the harvested seed pods. Use a dehydrator to dry them at a setting lower than 120 degrees F.
When used as directed, Airmid’s Harvest salad dressing blends do not contain enough cardamom or any other herb to produce any medicinal benefits. My products and this herb profile are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.
Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.