Cardamom is a popular spice used in many Indian, Middle Eastern, and Scandinavian recipes. You will also find it useful in coffees and teas for its strong fragrance and rich flavor. Now, the benefits of cardamom are as abundant as its uses. And in this article, we’ll pinpoint exactly why and what does cardamom smell like.
Did you know you can buy cardamom essential oil for aromatherapy as well? The energizing and revitalizing scent of cardamom in incense, shampoos, soaps and other such concoctions are a delight for many.
So cardamom is not only a treat for the tastebuds. But they are especially fruitful and pleasant for your nose as well.
Let’s understand the basics of this ‘Queen of Spice.’
Types of Cardamom & What Do They Smell Like
You will find 3 different colors of cardamom in a spice market: green, black, and white.
Green cardamom is the most famous and commonly available type of cardamom. Black and white cardamom, on the other hand, are variations of the green cardamom. White cardamom is green cardamom but bleached by light exposure.
But this isn’t just about appearance and color. There is a distinct difference in scent and flavor between all 3 types of cardamom.
Here’s a simple understanding of each of them…
Green cardamom is available in different forms. You can buy ground cardamom seeds, pods, or whole cardamoms. You can even buy powdered cardamom. However, the latter loses much of its strong and rich fragrance because it’s store-bought and kept for weeks in a pantry. Freshly ground cardamom has a stronger scent and it tastes better.
Green cardamom has a sweet-herbal scent with a hint of pine. It’s easier to associate the scent of green cardamom when you have the seeds in your palm. It’s light but intense. Roasting the green cardamom will release its natural scent, making it smell a little bit more herbal, earthy, and pine-y.
That’s why when you enter a spice market, it always reminds you of home. It’s that delicious spice, cardamom smell that we all know and love.
Black cardamom is a stronger variant of green cardamom. It’s bigger, darker, and stronger in both smell and flavor than green cardamom.
Buying black cardamom can cost a little bit more than green cardamom. Having said that, it’s not all that easily available. You can choose the pods of black cardamom as they are more fragrant than the seeds.
Store-bought pre-ground black cardamom usually has a shorter expiry date to retain its freshness and scent. And if you buy black cardamom pods, they are more affordable than ground seeds.
As already mentioned, white cardamom is the bleached variant of green cardamom from light exposure. This makes white cardamom less intense on the senses than green and black cardamom.
Using white cardamom in tea and coffee for a light but pleasant flavor is essential. It also complements both sweet and savory recipes including main courses and cuisines.
The menthol-like scent of cardamom is also used in chewing gums and toothpaste as it serves as a refreshing and energizing breath freshener.
Making Cardamom Oil for the First Time
Now that you know you can use cardamom for aromatherapy and that it has a strong and rich scent, here are some ways you can extract it.
The medicinal properties of cardamom oil are profound. It is used for aromatherapy, stress-release, teeth whitening, digestive aid, and it’s great for coughs and sinuses.
If you don’t trust what brands put into bottled cardamom oil, you can make it yourself at home. This cardamom oil can be used for up to 8 months.
- Start with grinding whole cardamom pods and seeds using a mortar and pestle. Even if you have an electric grinder at home, use a mortar and pestle as it extracts a richer smell during distillation.
- Use cheesecloth and keep the ground cardamom in the center of the folded cheesecloth. Tie up the edges so the cardamom doesn’t fall out. And place the wrapped cheesecloth in a saucepan filled with hot boiling water. You can use a string to tie up the top and edges of the cheesecloth.
- After a few minutes of boiling on the stove, turn the heat off and keep it aside for 12-24 hours. Allowing the ground cardamom to simmer in the water for this long is essential to extracting a rich and strong batch of cardamom oil. You will notice less water after 24 hours of simmering.
- You’ll also notice oil floating on the surface of the water. Take a cotton ball to absorb all that oil from the water and squeeze the liquid into a glass jar.
- Cover the saucepan with another cheesecloth and keep it under direct sunlight. Wait for as long as is needed for the water to completely evaporate in the saucepan. What will be left inside the saucepan is the cardamom oil which you can empty out in the same glass jar!
Did you know that the human nose can identify around 10,000 different smells? Cardamom is a common spice on every kitchen rack. And you can buy it in many forms – powdered, oil, syrup, and dried.
But my favorite kind is the real thing. Whole cardamom pods with the seeds intact. They pack so much flavor and, most importantly, scent. Even though the use of cardamom is limited to India, Middle East, and Scandinavia, it is being used for its revitalizing scent all over the world. In candles, oils, incense, shampoos, soaps, etc.
This Guatemalan spice is exported all over the world and you’ll find it in abundance in any spice market in your area. So if you want to know more about what does cardamom smell like, you’ve come to the right place.