I like to buy cardamom pods and then grind it once in a while as I need it. This has two big advantages over buying pre-ground cardamom – it’s fresher tasting and less expensive. Plus I think the pods have a longer shelf life than the ground stuff.
My girlfriends and I did a little food tour in an Indian neighborhood of Chicago last summer and I picked up a big bag of cardamom pods for a couple dollars. Ridiculously cheap. If you don’t have a local Indian grocery store, you can get bulk cardamom pods through places like Mountain Rose Herbs, also. My 8 ounce bag is probably enough to last most people a lifetime – but I love cardamom in my baking. The pods are also great for make chai tea and tossing in Indian curry. Just look for green cardamom – I’ve accidently purchases black cardamom before and the flavor is completely different. The green ones are what we normally use in baking and other recipes.
The major problem with cardamom pods is getting at the little seeds inside the pods. You can cut each individual pods open and scrape out the seeds – but it takes forever. After getting frustrated with my lack of progress of getting at the seeds, I did a little internet searching and found an approach that said to buzz the pods in a coffee grinder and then pick out the pod pieces. This works. But it is difficult and time consuming to pick out the pod pieces. Especially if you buzz them too long in the grinder.
This is what mine looked like after a couple pulses in the coffee grinder. I should note that you could do this also in a mortar and pestle. But can you imagine picking out all of those pod pieces? Here is how I got around it. I emptied the coffee grinder into a small bowl. And I took that bowl plus and extra bowl and headed outside. We had a nice windy day today, so I was helped along by the wind, and I simply held one bowl above the other and poured the seeds between the bowls. The wind picked up the little bits of the pods and blew them away, leaving me with the seeds and a few larger bits of pod. By this point, it was super easy to pick out the bigger pieces of pod and I was left with the seeds.
Then I just spun the seeds in the coffee grinder (again – you can use a mortar and pestle) until I had them ground as fine as I wanted. And to be honest, I didn’t spin it long enough this time around. I still had larger bits of seed in my cardamom bread that I would have liked. So spin that coffee grinder a little longer than you think you need. I like to grind extra and keep it in a little jar so I don’t have to go through this process every time I want ground cardamom. But it will still be lots fresher than what you can buy in the store.
I hope this saves you some time and trouble in grinding your cardamom!