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India

Green Cardamom

Farm Locations

We work closely with farmer-partners in the following regions of India while incorporating principles of food traceability. This involves keeping all the lots separate right from the start from when it is procured and all the way until it is processed and packaged.

What you get to experience with The Sabor Co. is single-origin spices at an individual farm level in most cases.

Idukki District, Kerala, India

The Sabor Co. has strong relationships with farmer-partners across the Idukki district of Kerala who are mainly involved in the cultivation of green cardamom and black pepper.

The Idduki district comprises forms a high-altitude plateau with rugged mountainous terrain, several river valleys, and deep gorges.

A part of the Idukki district in the Southern Western Ghats is a mountain range known as the Cardamom Hills, providing a favourable climate for the growth of cardamom, pepper, and coffee. Rich in flora and fauna, this hilly area is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Cardamom is generally grown between 600 to 1500 meters above MSL in the Idukki district and if you go any higher in terms of altitude, you will find lush tea plantations.

Wayanad District, Kerala, India

The Waynard district also known as the land of the paddy fields situated in the northwest of Kerala as a part of the Western Ghats. It is the only plateau in Kerala.

Situated at a height between 700 meters and 2100 meters above sea level it provides the right climatic conditions for the cultivation of pepper, cardamom, tea, coffee, cocoa, vanilla and other spices.

Harvesting Season

The Harvesting of green cardamom in the southern parts of India begins in June and goes on till February with the peak harvesting period being October to November in most areas.

The capsules take about 120 days from their first appearance until maturity.

Varieties of Indian Cardamom

There are four main varieties of the Indian green cardamom distinguished mainly by adaptability, nature of panicle, shape, and size of capsules, these are as follows:

Malabar

Named after the Malabar coast of India that stretches between Karnataka and Kerala, the plants of this variety can grow up to 2-3 meters until maturity and are characterised by prostate panicles i.e. fruits lay on the ground, thus increasing the chances of them getting spoiled as compared to the other varieties.

The Malabar variety can thrive in areas that receive lower or seasonal rainfall. Therefore this variety is cultivated mostly in the state of Karnataka rather than in Kerala or Tamil Nadu.

Mysore

A robust variety of green cardamom, characterised by an erect panicle i.e. growing vertically upwards, cultivated mostly in Kerala and certain regions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

This particular variety contains higher levels of cineol and limonene resulting in a more intense colour and aroma as compared to other varieties of green cardamom grown in India.

Mysore Cardamom can grow up to 3-4 meters in height and thrives in regions that receive well-distributed rainfall.

Vazhukka

A naturally occurring hybrid variety between Malabar and Mysore, this variety is as robust as the Mysore variety. The plant can grow well in regions that are 900 to 1200 meters above sea level.

Vazhukka is extensively grown in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and has panicles that are semi-erect bearing fruits that are round or oval in shape.

Njallani

Developed by a local marginal farmer in the Idukki district of Kerala, this particular variety of green cardamom revolutionised the cultivation of this crop. The variety can yield up to 1500 kg per hectare as compared to other varieties that only yield anywhere from 200 kg to 250 kg per hectare.

Njallani was developed by planting 4 varieties of cardamom side by side and allowing for cross-pollination utilising carefully placing beehives at the farm.

Given the drastic difference in the yield of this variety, the Njallani variety is now grown in about 87% of the plantations in the Idukki district.

This variety can produce fruit that is double the size of the Mysore variety of green cardamom.

Grades of Indian Cardamom

Cardamom pods are graded based on their size, colour, weight in grams per litre, and the drying method used while processing the fruit.

There are said to be about 25 different grades of Indian cardamom but the most commonly used grades acceptable in the international trading community are Extra Bold, Super Bold, Bold, Mixed Grade or Bulk, Small, and Seeds.

Sometimes the word Alleppey Green is added to these grades but this is not because the cardamom is grown in the Alleppey region but because this was the main depot through which this cardamom was processed in the 18th century.

The following table takes you through various characteristics of each of the above-mentioned grades.

Grade Diameter Colour & Appearance Weight (g/l)
Super Bold 8 mm Greenish & Matured 450 g/l
Extra Bold 7 mm Greenish & Matured 435 g/l
Bold 6.5 mm Greenish 415 g/l
Average Mix 6 mm to 8 mm Green to Light Green 385-400 g/l

* The specifications provided above are approximate only and may vary based on the lot.

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