Scientific name :Elettaria cardamomum
Cardamom of commerce is the dried ripe fruit (capsules of cardamom plant) often referred as the “Queen of Spices” because of its very pleasant aroma and taste. Cardamom is a perennial, herbaceous, rhizomatous plant. Based on the nature of panicles, three varieties are recognized viz. Malabar with prostrate panicle, Mysore with erect panicle, and Vazhukka with semi erect panicle. Plants are of medium size (2 to 3 mtr height) with pubescent leaves (on the dorsal side) and fruits globose in the case of Malabar, whereas plant robust (3 to 4 mtr height) with leaves glabrous on both sides with ovoid capsules in the case of Mysore. Vazhukka variety is a mix of both the above in physical characteristics.
Indian cardamom is offered to the international markets in different grades: ‘Alleppey Green Extra Bold’ (AGEB), ‘Alleppey Green Bold’ (AGB) and ‘Alleppey Green Superior’ (AGS) are names that register instant appeal worldwide. Cardamom oil is a precious ingredient in food preparations, perfumery, health foods medicines and beverages. India, a traditional exporter of cardamom to the Middle East countries where it goes mostly into the preparation of ‘Gahwa’ – a strong cardamom – coffee concoction without which no day is complete or no hospitality hearty for an Arab. Indian cardamom enjoys a premium preference in the Middle East, Japanese and Russians who relish it for its distinct enriching properties.
Uses: The major use is for the preparation of ‘gahwa’ – a strong cardamom coffee concoction which is a symbol for hospitality among Arabs. Apart from this cardamom is widely used as a flavouring material in whole and ground form. In Asia, it can add a lingering sparkle to every kind of dishes both traditional and modern. In Scandinavian countries it is used in baked goods and confectionaries. In Europe and North America it is an ingredient in curry powder and in some sausages products. Cardamom oil and oleoresin has applications in flavouring processed foods, cordials, and liquors and in perfumery and in Ayurvedic medicines
Scientific name : Piper nigrum
Black Pepper is the dried mature berry of Piper nigrum, a climbing, perennial shrub mostly found in hot, moist region of Southern India. Under cultivation pepper vines are trailed over support as columns, 5-6 mtr tall, 1-2 meter diameter. The climbing woody stems have swollen nods with clinging roots at each node, which helps in anchoring the vine to the support trees (standards). It has straight upward growing main stem and have lateral shoots from the axils of the leaves having shorter inter nodes without adventitious roots. In such branches the terminal buds get modified into an inflorescence (spike) and the auxiliary buds continue further growth.
The root system confined to 75-100 cm radius and depth. The inflorescence is a pendent spike, 3-15 cm long with 50-150 flowers. Flowers are minute, white pale yellow, arranged spirally on fleshy pedantries. The specie is naturally self-pollinated and pollen dispersal is aided by the presence of water droplets. Fruit is a single seeded drupe often called berry. It is spherical in shape, green in colour, changing to red on ripping and when it is dried it will be in black colour.
Uses: Pepper is largely used by meat packers and in canning, pickling, baking, considering for its preservative value. It has the ability to correct the seasoning of dishes, therefore used as a final dash at the end of cooking to effectively adjust the flavour. It is an important component of culinary seasoning of universal use and is an essential ingredient of numerous commercial foodstuffs. It is also used as an ingredient in spice mixes. White pepper is used in products like mayonnaise where, black specks of black pepper is not liked. Other products in use are pepper oil, oleoresin, micro encapsulated pepper, green pepper in brine, dehydrated green pepper, frozen pepper etc. Black pepper is an essential ingredient in Indian system of medicine. Piperine, the pungent principle in pepper oleoresin helps to enhance bio-availability and therefore used in pharmaceuticals. The major functional properties of pepper are analgesic, anti-pyretic, anti-oxidant and anti-microbial.
Scientific name: Zingiber officinale
Ginger of commerce is the dried underground stem of the herbaceous tropical plant grown as an annual. The whole plant is refreshingly aromatic and the underground rhizome, raw or processed, is valued as spice. Ginger is a slender perennial herb, 30-50 cm tall with palmately branched rhizome bearing leafy shoots. The leafy shoot is a pseudostem formed by leaf sheath and bears 8 to 12 distichous leaves
Uses: Fresh ginger, dry ginger powder, oleoresin and oil are used in food processing. It is indispensable in the manufacture of ginger bread, confectionary, ginger ale, curry powders, certain curried meats, table sauces, in pickling and in the manufacture of certain cordials, ginger cocktail, carbonate drinks, liquors etc. In medicine, it is used as carminative and stimulant. It has wider applications in indigenous medicines. The ginger oil is used as food flavourant in soft drinks
Scientific name : Curcuma longa
Turmeric is the boiled, dried, cleaned and polished rhizomes of Curcuma longa. The plant is a herbaceous perennial, 60-90 cm high, with a short stem and tufted leaf. There are 7 to 12 leaves, the leaf sheaths forms the pseudo stem. The lamina is green above and pale green below and has a length of 30-40 cm and width 8-12 cm. Inflorescence is a central spike of 10-15 cm length. 1-4 flowers are born in axil of the bract opening one at a time. About 30 flowers are produced in a spike. Seeds are produced in capsules and there will be one to numerous sunken capsules in an inflorescence.
Uses: Turmeric is used to flavour and to colour foodstuffs. It is a principal ingredient in curry powder. Turmeric oleoresin is used in brine pickles and to some extent in mayonnaise and relish formulations, non-alcoholic beverages, gelatins, butter and cheese etc. The colour curcumin extracted from turmeric is used as a colourant. Turmeric is also used as a dye in textile industry. It is used in the preparation of medicinal oils, ointments and poultice. It is stomachic, carminative, tonic, blood purifier and an antiseptic. It is used in cosmetics. The aqueous extracts has biopesticidal properties.