Why We Chose: Cardamom

Our Goupie Cardamom with White chocolate was inspired by an Indian dessert dish involving carrots and cardamom, that had long been a favourite with the Goupie team.

We love cardamom so much that we also included it in our Goupie White Christmas, blending the spice with orange and cranberries to create a light, but tasty Christmas treat.

There are two types of cardamom, green and black.  We use seeds of the smaller green cardamom, which has a gentle, aromatic flavour that isn’t too challenging, even for the unadventurous.  Sadly, many people’s first experience of the spice is accidentally biting on a whole pod in an Indian curry, but hopefully a taste of Goupie Cardamom will convince doubters of the delicate charm of this spice.

For our Goupie’s we take the seeds out of the pods and crush them immediately before infusing the seeds in our Goupie base.  That means we get the freshest possible flavour – even though it’s a job that is fiddly and must be done by hand, and not the most popular in the Goupie Factory!

Cardamom is cited as the third most expensive spice in the world after saffron and vanilla and, when Goupie recently visited cardamom plantations in southern India, it was easy to see why it is so expensive; it is a very labour intensive crop that can only be picked by hand.  However, it is also a crop that feeds directly back into the local communities where it is grown in India, where it is a native plant.  It is also now grown in Guatemala where its cultivation was introduced at the turn of the 20th century, as well as other countries in South East Asia.

Each cardamom plant, which looks a bit like a small bamboo plant, can last for about 20 years and is usually grown under a canopy of trees, partly to keep the fierce sun off the plants, but also to maintain heat.  It can be cropped for several months of the year, when teams of pickers will collect the glossy green pods (that fall in racemes for the base of the plant), in 5 kilo pails (it takes just under an hour to pick one kilo).  These pods are then washed and gently dried mechanically over 18-24 hours, with 5kg of fresh pods yielding about 1kg of dried pods.  Plantations will have a wood fired furnace from which hot air is funnelled to the pods; this might be a metal hot-box, or an entire room devoted to the process.  After drying, the pods are gently sieved to get rid of stalks and any other undesired plant material before being bagged and taken to market where they are graded for quality and sold. The simplicity of the process means that cardamom can be grown and readied for market with minimum investment; perfect for small-scale farmers and communities, whilst generating good income; often supporting several families.