Getting the best from cardamom, whether you use it whole or ground


Cardamom capsules contain essential oils that can relieve stomach problems. – Photo: Jens Schierenbeck/dpa

Cardamom fits in so many dishes, from festive desserts and mulled wine to curries, biscuits and even porridge. The thing to remember when using it that you are usually better off using the pods whole, rather than ground, as this maximizes the aroma.

That delicious smell comes from the small brown seeds contained in the pods, says Sabine Hülsmann, a nutrition expert with a consumer advice centre in Germany.

When it comes to freshness: The stickier the seeds, the fresher they are (and the more aroma you'll get in your food), Hülsmann says.

To get the most out of cardamom, you are better off buying it whole, storing it in a sealed container and then grinding it up when you need it.

Cardamom is often sold ground up into a powder, and yet once the aroma cells are broken up during grinding, the fragrant substances evaporate and the spice loses much of its aroma.

And don't store your cardamom anywhere near the stove, no matter how convenient that might seem. Heat, moisture and light are the enemies of your spice rack.

If you want to add some cardamom to a sweet dish, you can crush the whole pods a little with a mortar and pestle, add them to the dish and then fish them out before you serve.

If you are only planning to use the seeds from inside the pods, you can lightly roast them, then crush them with your mortar and pestle and add them to the dish.

Cardamom, which is related to ginger, can be found in pods that are green, brown or white, although the most common is the green variety with its flowery, spicy aroma.

White cardamom is a bleached green pod and you can use it in the same way. Brown cardamom has a tangy-smoky taste, so is best in savoury dishes. – dpa

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spices , cardamom


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