Cardamom, sometimes spelt cardamon or cardamum, is a spice that is made from the seeds from plants that are native to Indonesia and the Indian subcontinent.
Over time, the plants that produce cardamom seeds have been cultivated and grown in many other countries, with Guatemala now producing the most cardamom of any country.
Cardamom comes in white, green, and black varieties with the green pods being most widely used.
Cardamom pods are slightly papery and can be split open into a star shape. There are black seeds within the pod which contain the flavour associated with cardamom.
The seeds are best stored in the pod as this retains their freshness and flavour although the seeds can be ground and turned into a powder.
This powder is popular in Asia as a way of making a spiced milk drink.
Technically the pod of the cardamom is edible, but it does not contain the flavour and does not have a good texture, so it is usually discarded.
Are Cardamom Pods Poisonous?
Cardamom is used in both herbal and traditional medicines, and so there is a slight concern that it may not be safe to eat the pods.
Research shows that there is no toxicity in cardamom when taken as a food or a medicine.
That said, there are some side effects that can arise from eating a lot of cardamom, especially to those who are sensitive or who have allergies.
This is usually a dermatological sensitivity caused by the number of terpenes in the seed so it is wise to try cardamom slowly and in smaller quantities if you are unsure how you may be affected by it.
Can You Eat Cardamom Pods When Pregnant?
Technically cardamom is considered safe for using as a food or flavouring during pregnancy.
In small amounts it does not present any risk and has been shown to help some people combat pregnancy nausea when taken as a warm spicy milky drink.
Caution should be taken when consuming cardamom as a medicine and it is not recommended to take cardamom-based medicines when pregnant.
Always consult your doctor or midwife before taking herbal or traditional medicines when pregnant and follow their advice.
How Much Cardamom Can You Eat in a Day?
The general recommendation is no more than 3 cardamom pods should be eaten in a day. Some people choose to chew them in a similar way top chewing gum, to freshen the breath and then they spit out the pods.
Cardamom for medicinal purposed should be used following the instructions on the packet, as much will depend on the strength and potency of the cardamom and any other ingredients that the medicine might have in it.
As a spice or flavouring just follow any recipe guidelines for adding it.
When using whole cardamom pods in cooking you should add them for flavour but remove them before serving or pick them out before eating. This way the flavour is infused into the dish, but the chewy shell can be discarded.
Can You Eat Cardamom Pod Seeds?
Cardamom seeds are edible, but they are bitter and unpleasant when bitten into if they are not processed at all first.
If you want to add cardamom seeds directly to a dish it is best to grind them or crush them first, and use them sparingly, as a little goes a long way.
Cardamom can be bought as a ground spice which makes adding it to dishes a little easier.
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