Toby’s Travels: Cardamom

I had the privilege to meet some of our growers in South and Central America a few months ago. One of my stops was at a cardamom farm. Take a look at some of the highlights from my trip.

My trip started in South America where my driver took me high up into the mountains. I saw some breath-taking views.

As I traveled over the mountain pass and down into the valley, I saw several terrace farms, a unique agricultural practice that dates back to the Incas. Terrace agriculture is used on mountainsides to help conserve water and prevent soil erosion.

I was welcomed with these gorgeous views as I traveled down into the valley.

In South America, I visited some ginger farmers.  Learn about that visit in my ginger post on May 3, 2012.

My travels out to the cardamom farm started in this remote village in Central America.

After what seemed like forever, I finally arrived at the cardamom farm. Here’s a picture of one of several cardamom plants I saw that day. Cardamom is a
member of the ginger family and native to India.

Cardamom grows best in the shade and therefore thrives in the rainforests of the tropics.

Cardamom plants grow in rows on plantations and their stems can reach anywhere from six to 16 feet in length.

The cardamom pods are actually found near the base of the plant and have to be picked by hand, making cardamom one of the most expensive spices only second to saffron.

While most of our customers purchase cardamom seed, HQO only buys organic cardamom pods directly from the grower. We wait until the product arrives at our headquarters in Reno, NV before we remove the seeds from the pod. This ensures our customers receive the freshest, most flavorful product available. So, once the cardamom is picked by hand in Central America, it’s carefully bagged using this machine and shipped directly to us.

I hope you enjoyed this little photo tour of my cardamom farm visit.  Stay tuned for the next post on my travels to Sri Lanka.


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