The Spice Trade Industry insider knowledge, and usage tips on spices and other ingredients

Industry insider knowledge, and usage tips on spices and other ingredients

What’s the best quality Cardamom?

Cardamom is a rich, luxurious Indian spice that most people have heard of. Yet, it refers to several different plants native to India, Pakistan, Nepal & Bhutan. These range in colour from green, white, red, brown and even black. Since Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices on the planet, it’s also no wonder that in recent years it has been cultivated in other parts of the world such as Sri Lanka and Guatemala – one of the main reasons we have so many different varieties and qualities. As many parts of the world aren’t suitable for naturally growing the spice, these result in a lot of the weaker or odd flavours compared to the bright green Cardamom sold at Regency. But is ours truly the best? We set out to research.

The best cardamom Regency Spices
Regency quality Green Cardamom Pods, current market price HK$38/20g, $240/200g, $632/1kg wholesale pack

Some quick searches around the web, Cooks Illustrated did a test with black, green, and white varieties, to find that green pods had the most “most vibrant and balanced” flavours. They also noted that the white cardamom in particular was a significant disappointment. Their ideal? Green Cardamom.

This also agrees with our personal findings at the Hong Kong Food Exhibition. Besides 2-3 visitors who had never seen green coloured cardamom in their lives, everyone agreed that it was the most fragrant and best tasting they’d ever had.

Here are photos of the black cardamom for comparison.

black cardamom green cardamom compare
photo: Madeleine
black cardamom reference photo
photo: Aleks

Some other traders we spoke to in the industry also priced their black cardamom far below the price of Indian Green Cardamom. Green Cardamom is an extremely finicky spice – it dries up extremely fast, and needs to be stored properly in an airtight container, if not in a vacuum sealed bag. When left outside, green cardamom turns brown and loses flavour faster than black cardamom. Hence black is often popular when the pods don’t need to be seen and colour doesn’t matter. Black Cardamom is also easier to grow, and doesn’t need the precise conditions needed for fine jumbo sized green cardamom. Large black cardamom is commonly found in Vietnam, more or less all year around. In that regard, Black Cardamom is easier on the farmer and, if the cook isn’t so picky, for them too (cheaper and easier to handle).

White Cardamom is even more interesting. The reason why many palates preferred white cardamom is very simple. White Cardamom is actually a processed form OF green cardamom. Processors take poor quality green cardamom pods that aren’t fit to be sold as “green” / “jumbo” and high grades… and then bleach them. Bleaching is how the white cardamom gets it’s colour. Naturally, as they are the inferior rejected pods from the greens, they will taste worse!

Today’s price for Regency Green Cardamom:

20G (0.71 OZ) HKD 38
50G (1.8 OZ) HKD 78
200G (7.1 OZ) HKD 240
500G (17.6 OZ) HKD 432
1KG WHOLESALE PACK** HKD 632
100KG to 1 FCL please enquire

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