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Maximizing the use of cardamom seeds begins by choosing seeds that are the freshest. It is best to leave them in their pods until they will be used. When the seeds' color presents a problem in a certain dish, an individual might consider using the bleached variety. When recipes call for grinding of the cardamom seeds, a mortar and pestle are great tools to use.
For the best results, it is important to be selective when purchasing cardamom seeds. Whenever possible, a person should aim to purchase the seeds from a source that will allow him or her to sift through them and select those that are wanted. When doing this, the individual should be looking for the greenest seeds. It should be remembered that the intensity of a pod's green coloring generally indicates how fresh it is, and the freshest seeds tend to provide the best flavor.
An exception to this rule might be preferable when individuals are using this spice in baked goods or certain other items. In these cases, the seeds' natural coloring might be undesirable. There are white seeds that have been bleached and can be used in these instances.
Anyone who plans to use cardamom seeds should consider investing in a pestle and mortar. Recipes often call for the seeds to be ground, and this is one of the best ways. Grinding should not, however, be done too far in advance.
Cardamom seeds should be left in their pods until they are about to be used. If they are removed in advance, some of their essence will be lost. When making dishes containing liquid, such as stews or sauces, it can be beneficial to save the cardamom pods. These can be added along with the seeds to enhance the presence of this spice.
Some people, because of limited availability or for other reasons, might purchase seeds that have already been hulled. When this is the case and an individual is attempting to follow a recipe that describes the quantity in pods, he or she generally can use about a dozen seeds for each pod that is needed. Individuals who are following recipes that measure the quantity in teaspoons and who are unsure about the fineness to which they have ground their seeds should remember that one pod generally equals about one-sixth of a teaspoon.
Although individuals might purchase these seeds for a particular recipe, it is good to keep in mind that cardamom can be used as a spice in a wide range of foods and beverages, such as pastries, coffees and curries. As such, the spice's versatility should encourage cooks to be creative. Anyone who has extra seeds and is in need of ideas for using them should review recipes for dishes from the Middle East or North Africa.