What the heck is Cardamom?
In my ongoing quest to cook and eat healthier, I am always on the lookout to explore new ingredients that I personally haven’t used before. I came across a recipe in Better Homes & Garden Magazine for Buttermilk Pumpkin Cardamom Pie. (Disclaimer: Ok, ok, not exactly healthy, but sounded delicious and I am trying to learn how to be a better baker.) The problem was that I had no Cardamom, so I headed out to the store to get some. Truth be told, I had no idea what Cardamom was.
I got to the grocery store and the spices were on sale for 33% off – fantastic! I grabbed the Cardamom and just as I was about to walk off, I decided to double-check the price: $13.99. That was WITH the 33% discount!! Why the heck was this so expensive!? Was it laced in gold!?! Clearly, I needed to do some research about this expensive spicy number.
- Cardamom is an aromatic spice that is part of the ginger family.
- It’s used both in cooking and medicinally.
- It’s generally grown in Southeast Asia, and like some other well-known expensive spice like Saffron and Vanilla, it is expensive because it’s harvested by hand. It is a very labor-intensive handpicking process with each pod picked when it’s about 3/4 ripe. Much time and care is needed to yield this spice and when you find out how much TLC goes into this and processes like this and Saffron, you understand why you pay just a bit more.
- Like ginger, some find it useful for digestive problems, ulcers, even depression and halitosis.
Cardamom can be both strong and subtle – with notes of ginger and grapefruit – and works well in both sweet and savory dishes. It seems that this really packs a punch and is definitely worth the few extra dollars.
Do you use cardamom in your cooking? If so, I’d love for you to share your recipe. I’m still learning about how to incorporate it into my cooking and would love suggestions!
Taunia Soderquist is a professional musician, music educator, and radio host located in the Greater Los Angeles area. She’s also a seven and a half year gastric bypass post-op living a healthy lifestyle after losing and maintaining 150 lbs. Now a passionate cook, but not-so-passionate about exercise (eh, she’s trying). Check her website for live shows and more info: www.divataunia.com.