Cardamom Pods vs. Cardamom Seeds
Cardamom is a plant native to South East Asia and is well known for its pods and aromatic seeds. This is the third most expensive spice, behind vanilla and saffron -- it is widely used throughout Europe and Asia.
Cardamom pods come in three different colors: green, black, and white. Green is the most common of these colors, and the white variant is just a bleached version of the common Cardamom pod. The black cardamom, while related to the green cardamom, does not grow from the same plant. Cardamom pods have 8 to 16 seeds that are ground and used as seasonings.
The flavor of cardamom comes from its seeds, so both the pods and seeds share the same flavor when it’s fresh. However, storing these incorrectly may result in flavor loss. When stored properly, this spice can be used for more than a year, but seeds that have been removed from its pod have a tendency to lose its flavor once exposed to air. It’s recommended to buy pods if you’ll be using this spice for an extended period of time. Ground cardamom needs to be used immediately as flavor dissipates after grinding.
Both forms of cardamom can be used in the same recipe, but the method of preparation will differ. You will have to split or crush the pods to expose the seeds to be used for slow-cooking. Biting into these seeds tends to be unpleasant. When using these seeds, bruising with the back of the knife is a must. You can also toast and grind them. Remember that a little goes a long way.