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Agriculture > Spices > Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
Processing & Value Addition

Consumers prefer bold capsules with uniform size having its original dark green colour. The produce should be free from fungal growth, dust particles or any foreign materials. The cardamom should be dried properly. There should not be any smokey smell and charred appearance. In general, clean and hygienic products with good appearance are preferred in the market. The natural colour, flavour and its aroma are lost due to mismanagement and defective ways of handling during the course of harvesting, curing, packing and storing

The different methods of processing include Sun-drying , Artificial drying and Bleaching. The important products are oleoresins and seed powder.

Sun-drying

Capsules are dried directly under sunlight for five to six days or more. Frequent turning is done. This method can result in surface blemishes and may not give an attractive green colour. This method is practiced if the cultivar yields fruits that turn yellow before they are ready for picking and where facilities for green curing are not available.

Artificial drying

Processing of capsules is done in specially built curing houses. The harvested capsules are washed in water to remove dust and soil particles. Then they are spread on wire net trays in curing chamber. Burning firewood in the iron kiln produces heat required for drying. The heat thus produced is passed through pipes made of galvanized iron sheets. The process of drying takes about 18-24 hours, depending on the ambie,nt temperature. The capsules are spread thinly in the wire net trays and stirred frequ ently to ensure uniform drying. They are initially heated at 50 ºC for the first 4 hours and heat is then reduced to 45 ºC by opening ventilators and operating exhaust fans till the capsules are properly dried. Finally the temperature is raised to 60ºC for an hour.

The dried capsules are rubbed on wire mesh to remove the stalk and dried portion of flower from the capsules and then graded according to size by passing through sieves of sizes of 7, 6.5, 6 mm etc. The graded produce is stored in polythene lined gunny bags to retain the green colour during storage and also to avoid exposure to moisture.

A relatively new innovation in the curing procedure is blanching by soaking the fruits in 2.0 per cent washing soda for 10 minutes prior to drying. This inhibits colour loss during drying operation and extends colour retention during subsequent storage from three months to ten months.

Bleaching

A proportion of the crop is bleached after sun drying by exposing the capsules to fumes from burning sulphur to get uniform colour and appearance. Steeping capsules in a dilute solution of potassium metabisulphite solution induces a slight improvement in keeping quality.

Oleoresin

Solvent extraction of ground spice yields 10 per cent oleoresin. Cardamom oleoresin is used for flavouring food after being dispersed in salt, flour etc. One kilogram of oleoresin replaces 20 kg ground spice.

Decorticated seeds / seed powder

Decorticated seeds command a lower price due to rapid loss of volatile oil during storage and transportation. Seed powder is marketed to a limited extent.

 

Source: www.indianspices.com Top
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