Monday, March 5, 2012

Cardamom(Ilaichi) Cultivation



Scientific classification


Kingdom      : Plantae
(unranked)   : Angiosperms
(unranked)   : Monocots
(unranked)   : Commelinids
Order          : Zingiberales
Family         : Zingiberaceae
Genera        : Amomum
                     Elettaria


Cardamom (or cardamon) refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India,Nepal and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. Today, the majority of cardamom is still grown in southern India, although some other countries, such as Guatemala and Sri Lanka, have also begun to cultivate it. Elettaria pods are light green while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown.


Cardamom is often named as the “third most expensive” spice in the world (after saffron and vanilla), and the high price reflects the high reputation of this most pleasantly scented spice. Despite its numerous applications in the cooking styles of Sri Lanka, India and Iran, 60% of the world production is exported to Arab (South West Asia, North Africa) countries, where the larger part is used to prepare coffee.

Etymology

The word cardamom is derived from the Latin cardamomum, itself the latinisation of the Greek καρδάμωμον (kardamomon), a compound of κάρδαμον (kardamon), "cress" + ἄμωμον (amomon), which was the name for a kind of an Indian spice plant. The earliest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek ka-da-mi-ja, written in Linear B syllabic script in the list of flavourings on the "Spice" tablets found among palace archives in the House of the Sphinxes in Mycenae.

 The modern genus name Elettaria is derived from the local name in a South Asian tongue; cf. Hindi ilaychi   “green cardamom”; yet some languages have very similar names for black cardamom. The common source is Sanskrit, where cardamom is called ela  or ellka, which is itself a loan from a Dravidian language. From the corresponding Dravidian root, *ĒL, all modern names of cardamom in the major Dravidian languages are directly derived, e. g., Kannada elakki , Telugu yelakulu , Tamil elakkai  and Malayalam elakkay . The second element kai means “fruit”


Cardamom plant 

Cardamom is native to India and Sri Lanka where it occurs in the wild. It has been introduced all over all over tropical Asia where it is cultivated.

Cardamom pods are produced by several varieties of perennial plants and belong to the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). Cardamom plants are sometimes called "cinnamon palms" and Cardamom. Most commercially available cardamom spice is a variety of two species, Elettaria cardamomu, or Amomun kravanb. The cardamom plants can grow to be large bushes consisting of long, straight, slender stems with numerous symmetrical, dark green, pointed leaves.


The plant grows in a thick clump of up to 20 leafy shoots. It can reach a height of between 2 to almost 6 m.

Leaves - dark green, long and sword-shaped. The underside is paler and may have a covering of tiny hairs.

Flowers - on a long flowering stalk which can grow to more than 1 m long. They are both male and female and are pale green. One of the petals is white and streaked with violet.

Fruits - pale green to yellow and elongated oval-shape. Each fruit has 3 chambers filled with small aromatic seeds, each about 3 mm long. The fruits and seeds dry to a straw-brown colour and are widely used as flavouring.

 Many "wild" kinds of cardamom grow in its native region, but they are not considered a substitute for true cardamom. Black cardamom is one of these wild relatives that became popular in its own right in certain cooking styles.

Types and distribution

The two main genera of the ginger family that are named as forms of cardamom are distributed as follows:

Elettaria (commonly called cardamom, green cardamom, or true cardamom) is distributed from India to Malaysia.

Amomum (commonly known as black cardamom, brown cardamom, Kravan, Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom, Siamese cardamom, white cardamom, or red cardamom) is distributed mainly in Asia and Australia.

Ecology

Elettaria cardamomum is used as a food plant by the larva of the moth Endoclita hosei.


Varieties

There were initially three natural varieties of green cardamom plants.
Malabar (Nadan/Native) – As the name suggests, this is the native variety of Kerala. These plants have panicles which grow horizontally along the ground.

Mysore – As the name suggests, this is a native variety of Karnataka. These plants have panicles which grow vertically upwards.


Vazhuka – This is a naturally occurring hybrid between Malabar and Mysore varieties, and the panicles grow neither vertically nor horizontally, but in between.

Recently, a few planters isolated high yielding plants and started multiplying them on a large scale. The most popular high yielding variety is "Njallani." Njallani, also known as "rup-ree-t", is a unique high-yielding cardamom variety developed by an Indian farmer.In  Idukki district of  Kerala another high yielding variety has been developed. This is a purely white flowered variety of Vazhuka type green cardamom having higher yield than Njallani. The variety has high adaptability to different shade conditions and can also be grown in waterlogged areas.

Uses

Green and black cardamom

Both forms of cardamom are used as flavorings in both food and drink, as cooking spices and as a medicine . Elettaria cardamomum (the usual type of cardamom) is used as a spice, a masticatory, and in medicine; it is also smoked sometimes.


Food and drink

Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. Black cardamom has a distinctly more smokey, though not bitter, aroma with a coolness some consider similar to mint.

Drinks made with Cardamom Spice Drinks


Iron Hindu Recipe
Apricot Brandy
Apricot Juice
Cognac
Cardamom
Heavy Cream
Vanilla Schnapps 
Shake all ingredients (except cardamom) with plenty of ice and pour into a hurricane glass. Grind a moderate amount of green cardomom on top. (This is extremely important, and gives the drink it's characteristic purfume.) Garnish with fruit, and serve.

Masala Chai Recipe
Black Pepper
Cardamom
Cinnamon
Clove
Ginger
Milk
Sugar
Tea Leaves
Water

 Bring two cups of water to the boil. Add all the ingredients (except milk and sugar) and boil again for about 15 seconds. Let stand for one minute.

Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight, but little is needed to impart the flavor. Cardamom is best stored in pod form because once the seeds are exposed or ground they quickly lose their flavor. However, high-quality ground cardamom is often more readily (and cheaply) available and is an acceptable substitute. For recipes requiring whole cardamom pods, a generally accepted equivalent is 10 pods equals 1½ teaspoons of ground cardamom.

It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking and is often used in baking in Nordic countries, such as in the Finnish sweet bread pulla or in the Scandinavian bread Julekake. In the Middle East, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes as well as traditional flavouring in coffee and tea. Cardamom pods are ground together with coffee beans to produce a powdered mixture of the two, which is boiled with water to make coffee. Cardamom is used in some extent in savoury dishes. In some Middle Eastern countries, coffee and cardamom are often ground in a wooden mortar, a mihbaj, and cooked together in a skillet, a "mehmas," over wood or gas, to produce mixtures that are as much as forty percent cardamom.

Masala chai (spiced tea)

In South Asia, green cardamom is often used in traditional Indian sweets and in Masala chai (spiced tea). Black cardamom is sometimes used in garam masala for curries. It is occasionally used as a garnish in basmati rice and other dishes. It is often referred to as fat cardamom due to its size. Individual seeds are sometimes chewed and used in much the same way as chewing gum; it is  used  to neutralize the toughest breath odors." It has been known to be used for gin making.
Cardamom Plants

Cardamom as Medicine


Green cardamom is broadly used in South Asia to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders. It also is used to break up kidney stones and gall stones, and was reportedly used as an antidote for both snake and scorpion venom.

Amomum is used as a spice and as an ingredient in traditional medicine in systems of the traditional Chinese medicine in China, in Ayurveda in India, Pakistan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Species in the genus Amomum are also used in traditional Indian medicine. Among other species, varieties and cultivars, Amomum villosum cultivated in China, Laos and Vietnam is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat stomach issues, constipation, dysentery, and other digestion problems. "Tsaoko" cardamom Amomum tsao-ko is cultivated in Yunnan, China and northwest Vietnam, both for medicinal purposes and as a spice. Increased demand since the 1980s, principally from China, for both Amomum villosum and Amomum tsao-ko has provided a key source of income for poor farmers living at higher altitudes in localized areas of China, Laos and Vietnam, people typically isolated from many other markets. Until recently, Nepal had been the world's largest producer of large cardamom. Guatemala has become the world's biggest producer and exporter of cardamom.




Black Cardamom is a spice belonging to the genus “Amomum”. They are well known for their strong astringent fragrance. Black cardamom is widely used in Asian cuisines.

Black Cardamom Scientific Name

Black cardamom spice is derived from two distinct species, the scientific names of which are “Amomum subulatum” and “Amomum costatum”.

Black Cardamom Alternative Names


This spice is also known by several other alternative names, some of which have been mentioned below:

Bengal cardamom
Indian cardamom
Nepal cardamom
Hill cardamom
Winged cardamom
Greater cardamom
Brown cardamom


Black Cardamom Description

Looks: The pods are 2 to 5 centimeters long, dark brown in color and covered with hairs. The rough outer surface of the pods is covered with wrinkles. Inside each pod there are almost 20 to 30 sticky seeds.
Black Cardamom Plants

Smell: Black cardamom has a fresh, strong aroma.

Taste: The pods have a distinct camphor-like flavor.

Black Cardamom Seeds

Black cardamom seeds have a dark brown appearance. They are known for their astringent aroma and camphor-like flavor. Both the pods and seeds are widely used in culinary dishes. They also have certain medicinal properties.

Black Cardamom Distribution


Black cardamom seeds are mainly cultivated in Asian countries such as Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, China and Vietnam.

Growing and Harvesting Black Cardamom seeds

Black cardamom is grown in tropical areas, wild zones and forest plantations. Partially trimmed tropical rain forests with some shade make the ideal grounds for cultivating these plants.
Cardamom Plants

The plants are harvested from October to December before they are fully mature. This helps in avoiding the splitting of capsules due to dehydration.

Black Cardamom Nutritional Facts

Black cardamom seeds have essential oils, the chemical constituents of which are listed below.

a-terpineol       45%
myrcene           27%
limonene            8%
menthone           6%
ß-phellandrene  3%
1,8-cineol           2%
sabinene             2%
heptane               2%


How to use Black Cardamom

Black cardamom can be used in cooking in the following ways:

Both the seeds and whole pods are used as spice in various dishes.
The seeds can be grounded and used in different recipes or they can be added whole.
Black cardamom can be fried or consumed raw.
It can be combined with several other spices while cooking.
Tender Cardamom Seeds

How to store Black Cardamom

The seeds and pods of black cardamom should be stored only in an airtight container. Storing them in dry conditions will keep them fresh for a year.

Black Cardamom vs. green cardamom

Black cardamom is frequently described in various sources as a low-level substitute for green cardamom, which is however untrue. Although both the spices are interchangeable, the black variety has a far stronger taste, while the green cardamom is preferred for its sweet, mellow fragrance.

Black Cardamom Uses

This spice finds its use in a variety of practical fields.

Culinary Uses

Black cardamom is a popular spice used in several types of food preparations. Here is a brief list illustrating the various ways in which these seeds can be used.

The leaves of the plant are cooked and consumed as greens.
The roots are boiled and eaten like potatoes.
Flowers are used as a garnishing agent in salads and other recipes.
The pods are often steam-cooked and added in pulses.


Black Cardamom is frequently included in several Indian sweet dishes and punches.

It is used as a flavoring agent in pickles and custard.
In India, it is used as a pan masala and added in betel leaf preparations.

Black Cardamom is an important ingredient in Scandinavian bakery products and Danish pastries.

It is an important spice used in the preparation of Biriyani.
In Sri Lankan cuisine, the pods are generally added to spicy beef and chicken curries.
When a small amount of this spice is added to coffee cakes, it produces a stimulating flavor.
Rice puddings, flans and porridges taste great with a pinch of black cardamom.
Black cardamom seeds are used to flavor tea.

Other Uses


There are some other uses of black cardamom seeds as well:

Black cardamom is frequently chewed as a mouth-freshener.
It is sometimes used in making jewelry after drying.
These seeds are also used in potpourri as a room freshener.


Black Cardamom Health Benefits

It has many health benefits.

Chewing black cardamom seeds helps to cure loss of appetite.
Black cardamom is also an important antidote to several health problems like bronchitis, colic, fatigue and stress.

Indians believe that black cardamom can cure obesity.
Consumption of this cardamom helps proper digestion.

Black Cardamom Medical Benefits

The various medical benefits of this spice are mentioned below:

Black cardamom is used as a carminative and a stimulant; it is effective in relieving indigestion and flatulence.

In India, Amomum subulatum is frequently used to cure dental problems and gum infections.
It can cure throat troubles, lung congestions and pulmonary tuberculosis.
Black cardamom is used to heal inflammation of eyelids.
It is used to treat digestive disorders.
The spice actively works as an antidote for scorpion and snake venom.
Black cardamom is used to treat halitosis.
It can heal respiratory problems like asthma and other types of respiratory spasms.
Black Cardamom seeds have anti-inflammatory properties and they help in the reduction of muscle spasms.

Black cardamom Recipes

Black cardamom is used in various recipes such as Finnish sweet bread pullas, Norwegian bread julekake and Indian masala tea. It is also an important ingredient in the preparation of different recipes like soups, casseroles, chowders and marinades. Other noteworthy recipes included Biriyanis, rice pudding, ginger fig chutney, cakes and payasam.

Black cardamom Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about this spice.

Black cardamom is held in high esteem in the Arabian countries where Cardamom coffee is considered to be a symbol of prestige and hospitality.

The Arabians even considered black cardamom to be a potent aphrodisiac.
In Chinese medicine, it is claimed that black cardamom can cure numerous ailments.
Black cardamom is also used in aromatherapy as a stimulant.
The ancient Greeks and Romans fermented the crushed seeds of black cardamom to produce a strong perfume.
It was also an important ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine.



Cardamom Spice


Cardamom spice is a highly aromatic spice that is most commonly used in Eastern, Arab, and some Scandinavian cuisines. Its unique slightly sweet and savory flavor allows it to be combined with both sweet and savory dishes. Cardamom seed's ability to enhance so many types of food is why it is combined with a wide range of other ingredients from seafood to sauces, to meats, poultry, vegetables, and even desserts, pastries, and other baked goods.


Numerous flavorful little cardamom seeds are encased within a single cardamom pod that are green in color when fresh. Cardamom spice has a complex flavor that can be described as slightly sweet, floral, and spicy with citric elements. It leaves the tongue with a warm antiseptic sensation similar to eucalyptus with an additional peppery after taste. Some have described its flavor as spicy and cola-like. Grind cardamom from one of the whole forms of the spice to insure a superior flavor and aroma, both of which are quickly lost when the spice is pre ground.


Kinds of Cardamom Spice



Cardamom comes in several forms depending upon how the cardamom seed pods are treated:

Green cardamom pods are the preferred form of this spice in its native country, India. This fancier cardamom has been picked while still immature and sun-dried to preserve its bright green color. Green cardamom pods are harder to find and more expensive than the other forms of cardamom in part because of their superior ability to retain aroma and flavor longer. This premium form of cardamom is all connoisseurs will use in any recipe which calls for cardamom. Buy Now

Cardamom seed has had the outer pod, or cardamom fruit, removed so that only the pure seeds remain. This form of cardamom spice is sometimes called cardamom-decort, which simply means the seeds have been removed from the pods, or hulled. The seeds are crushed or ground prior to use, which provides plenty of cardamom flavor at a more economical price, substitute 12 seeds for every whole pod called for in a recipe.

Black cardamom is the seed pods of closely related species that also are aromatic and have an appearance similar to that of true cardamom. Although, black cardamom is not a suitable substitute in recipes that call for cardamom. Its flavor is much earthier with sweetness and a flowery accent that is different from that of true cardamom's. It is an ingredient used in some African cooking and abroad to add a bacon like flavor to some vegetarian dishes.

Ground cardamom is convenient to have for baking and other applications where the spice needs to be ground. Freshness and thus flavor are of course compromised when cardamom is pre ground because it loses flavor soon after grinding. To appreciate cardamom's true flavor we suggest grinding it before use in a spice mill, electric coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle.

White cardamom that was commonly available in the United States and Europe has been bleached to achieve its color, or lack of it. It has been used in baking and some desserts because its color helps keep light colored batters, sauces, and confections speck free. The bleaching process also destroyed much of the cardamom's flavor leading to white cardamom's decline in popularity.

Cardamom Seed Description

Cardamom Seeds are collected from the pod of a tropical perennial plant. They have a spicy sweet flavour and an aroma similar to eucalyptus. Use to flavour pastries, cakes, biscuits and fruit desserts. Traditionally used in Indian food, for authentic Indian rice, add a few seeds to the rice during cooking.






Origin and World Production

Southern India and Sri Lanka.
Indian cardamom is slightly smaller, but more aromatic.

Although India is the largest producer of cardamom, only a small share of the Indian production is exported because of the large domestic demand. The main exporting country is Guatemala, where cardamom cultivation has been introduced to less than a century ago and where all cardamom is grown for export.

There several related plants in genera Amomum, Aframomum and Alpinia, many of which have aromatic seeds; these may appear as cardamom substitute or adulteration, although the flavours of most of them differ markedly from true cardamom. Some of these have a eucalypt-like flavour worth dealing with in their own right while others are more pungent and almost peppery ; yet many of them are quite disagreeable. These “wild cardamoms” can hardly be used as a substitute for the real thing.

Thai cardamom, Amomum krervanh
Thai Cardamom

Two South East Asian species, however, should be mentioned because their flavour comes very close to true cardamom: Siam cardamom, Amomum krervanh Pierre ex Gagnep. is native to peninsular South East Asia. Its small, almost spherical pods are used in the cuisines of Thailand and Cambodia and imitate cardamom’s aroma pretty well. Another species, round cardamom (Jawa cardamom, Amomum compactum ), from Indonesia also has a good, cardamomy flavour. If cardamom is ever asked for in recipes from the indicated areas, the local varieties are meant; substitution by true cardamom is perfectly possible.





Cloves Cultivation



Scientific classification
-------------------------------------------------------
Kingdom            : Plantae
Phylum               : Angiosperms
(unranked)         : Eudicots
(unranked)         : Rosids
Order                : Myrtales
Family               : Myrtaceae
Genus                : Syzygium
Species              : S. aromaticum
Binomial name    : Syzygium aromaticum
Synonyms           : Caryophyllus aromaticus L.
                            Eugenia aromatica (L.) Baill.
                            Eugenia caryophyllata Thunb.
                            Eugenia caryophyllus (Spreng.)

-------------------------------------------------------
Cloves are the unopened flower buds of the clove tree. An evergreen native to Indonesia and India that grows from eight to twelve meters in height, the clove tree produces flower buds in clusters that are pale in color at first, become green, and then bright red, when they are ready for harvesting. Dried cloves are brown, hard, and nail-like in shape. The English name derives from the Latin clavus (nail); the French word for nail is clou.

Cloves are native to the Maluku islands in Indonesia and used as a spice in cuisines all over the world. Cloves are harvested primarily in Indonesia, India, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The clove tree is an evergreen tree, having large leaves and sanguine flowers in numerous groups of terminal clusters. The flower buds are at first of a pale color and gradually become green, after which they develop into a bright red, when they are ready for collecting. Cloves are harvested when 1.5–2 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals which form a small ball in the center.


Taxonomy and nomenclature

The scientific name of clove is Syzygium aromaticum. It belongs to the genus Syzygium, tribe Syzygieae, and subfamily Myrtoideae of the family Myrtaceae. It is classified in the order of Myrtales, which belong to superorder Rosids, under Eudicots of Dicotyledonae. Clove is an Angiospermic plant and belongs to division of Magnoliophyta in the kingdom Plantae.

The English name derives from Latin clavus 'nail' (also the origin of French clou and Spanish clavo, 'nail') as the buds vaguely resemble small irregular nails in shape.

Uses

Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong, they are used sparingly.As a spice, cloves are used in cuisines all around the world. They are also used as a food preservative. One has to think only of a ham garnished with whole cloves to realize how ubiquitous and versatile the use of the spice has become. The clove scent is common to perfumes, and using cloves in oranges as a decorative pomander is a popular European tradition during the Christmas holiday season. Clove oil has both antiseptic and anesthetic properties; for example, it has been used in treating toothache for centuries. While many Asian countries have developed numerous therapeutic uses for the spice, Western culture has generally underrated its potential as a herbal remedy.

Cloves have historically been used in Indian cuisine (both North Indian and South Indian). In North Indian cuisine, it is used in almost all rich or spicy dishes as an ingredient of a mix named garam masala, along with other spices, although it is not an everyday ingredient for home cuisine, nor is it used in summer very often. In the Maharashtra region of India it is used sparingly for sweet or spicy dishes, but rarely in everyday cuisine. In Ayurvedic medicine it is considered to have the effect of increasing heat in system, hence the difference of usage by region and season. In south Indian cuisine, it is used extensively in biryani along with "cloves dish" (similar to pilaf, but with the addition of other spices), and it is normally added whole to enhance the presentation and flavor of the rice.

Dried cloves are also a key ingredient in Indian masala chai, spiced tea, a special variation of tea popular in some regions, notably Gujarat. In the US, it is often sold under the name of "chai" or "chai tea", as a way of differentiating it from other types of teas sold in the US.

In Mexican cuisine, cloves are best known as clavos de olor, and often used together with cumin and cinnamon.
Clove seeds

In Vietnamese cuisine, cloves are often used to season the broth of Phở.

In American cooking, it is often used in sweet breads such as pumpkin or zucchini bread along with other sweet spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.

Due to the Indonesian influence, the use of cloves is widespread in the Netherlands. Cloves are used in cheeses, often in combination with cumin. Cloves are an essential ingredient for making Dutch speculaas. Furthermore, cloves are used in traditional Dutch stews like hachee.

Non-culinary uses

The spice is used in a type of cigarette called kretek in Indonesia. Kreteks have been smoked throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. In 2009, clove cigarettes (as well as fruit and candy flavored cigarettes) were outlawed in the US. However, they are still sold in similar form, re-labeled as "filtered clove cigars".

Cloves are also an important incense material in Chinese and Japanese culture. And clove essence is commonly used in the production of many perfumes.

During Christmas, it is a tradition in some European countries to make pomanders from cloves and oranges to hang around the house. This spreads a nice scent throughout the house and serves as holiday decorations.

Cloves are often used as incense in the Jewish practice called Havdala.

Clove also works as an ant repeller

Traditional medicinal uses

Cloves are esteem’d healing, drying, cordial, cephalic and Stomatic; being good to stop Vomiting, strengthen a weak Stomach, expel Wind, prevent Fainting and malignant Distemper. The Distill’d Oyl is said to cure the Tooth-Ach, a Bit of Line being dipp’d in it, and put into the Hollow Tooth.

Cloves are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, and western herbalism and dentistry where the essential oil is used as an anodyne (painkiller) for dental emergencies. Cloves are used as a carminative, to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to improve peristalsis. Cloves are also said to be a natural anthelmintic. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy when stimulation and warming are needed, especially for digestive problems. Topical application over the stomach or abdomen are said to warm the digestive tract. Clove oil, applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, also relieves toothache. It also helps to decrease infection in the teeth due to its antiseptic properties.

In Chinese medicine cloves or ding xiang are considered acrid, warm and aromatic, entering the kidney, spleen and stomach meridians, and are notable in their ability to warm the middle, direct stomach qi downward, to treat hiccough and to fortify the kidney yang. Because the herb is so warming it is contraindicated in any persons with fire symptoms and according to classical sources should not be used for anything except cold from yang deficiency. As such it is used in formulas for impotence or clear vaginal discharge from yang deficiency, for morning sickness together with ginseng and patchouli, or for vomiting and diarrhea due to spleen and stomach coldness. This would translate to hypochlorhydria. Clove oil is used in various skin disorders like acne, pimples etc. It is also used in severe burns, skin irritations and to reduce the sensitivity of skin.

Cloves may be used internally as a tea and topically as an oil for hypotonic muscles, including for multiple sclerosis. This is also found in Tibetan medicine. Some recommend avoiding more than occasional use of cloves internally in the presence of pitta inflammation such as is found in acute flares of autoimmune diseases.

In West Africa, the Yorubas use cloves infused in water as a treatment for stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhea. The infusion is called Ogun Jedi-jedi.

Medicinal uses and Pharmaceutical preparations

Western studies have supported the use of cloves and clove oil for dental pain. However, studies to determine its effectiveness for fever reduction, as a mosquito repellent and to prevent premature ejaculation have been inconclusive. Clove may reduce blood sugar levels.

Tellimagrandin II is an ellagitannin found in S. aromaticum with anti-herpesvirus properties.

The buds have anti-oxidant properties.

Clove oil can be used to anesthetize fish, and prolonged exposure to higher doses (the recommended dose is 400mg/l) is considered a humane means of euthanasia.

In addition, Clove oil is used in preparation of some toothpastes, laxative pills and Clovacaine solution which is a local anesthetic and used in oral ulceration and anti-inflammations. Eugenol (or clove oil generally) is mixed with Zinc oxide to be a temporary filling.

Medicinal Use

According to traditional herbalist cloves are beneficial in the following problems:

Treats indigestion
Diarrhea
Hernia
Ringworm
Athlete's foot and other fungal infections.
Respiratory.
Used in anti-gout
Relieves toothache.
Helpful in insomnia and Curbs the desire for alcohol

Adulteration

Clove Stalks: They are slender stems of the inflorescence axis which show opposite decussate branching. Externally, they are brownish, rough and irregularly wrinkled longitudinally with short fracture and dry, woody texture.

Mother Cloves (Anthophylli): There are the ripe fruits of cloves which are ovoid, brown berries, unilocular and one-seeded. This can be detected by the presence of much starch in the seeds.

Brown Cloves: Expanded flowers from which both corolla and stamens have been detached.

Exhausted Cloves: Cloves from which almost or all of the oil has been removed by distillation. They yield no oil and are darker in color.

History

Until modern times, cloves grew only on a few islands in the Maluku Islands (historically called the Spice Islands), including Bacan, Makian, Moti, Ternate, and Tidore. Nevertheless, they found their way west to the Middle East and Europe well before the 1st century AD. Archeologists found cloves within a ceramic vessel in Syria along with evidence dating the find to within a few years of 1721 BC.

In the 3rd century BC, a Chinese leader in the Han Dynasty required those who addressed them to chew cloves so as to freshen their breath. Cloves, along with nutmeg and pepper, were highly prized in Roman times, and Pliny the Elder once famously complained that "there is no year in which India does not drain the Roman Empire of fifty million sesterces".

Cloves were traded by Muslim sailors and merchants during the Middle Ages in the profitable Indian Ocean trade, the Clove trade is also mentioned by Ibn Battuta and even famous One Thousand and One Nights characters such Sinbad the Sailor is known to have bought and sold Cloves. In the late 15th century, Portugal took over the Indian Ocean trade, including cloves, due to the Treaty of Tordesillas with Spain and a separate treaty with the sultan of Ternate. The Portuguese brought large quantities of cloves to Europe, mainly from the Maluku Islands. Clove was then one of the most valuable spices, a kg costing around 7 g of gold.

The high value of cloves and other spices drove Spain to seek new routes to the Maluku Islands, which would not be seen as trespassing on the Portuguese domain in the Indian Ocean. Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain sponsored the unsuccessful voyages of Christopher Columbus, and their grandson Charles V sponsored the voyage of Ferdinand Magellan. The fleet led by Magellan reached the Maluku Islands after his death, and the Spanish were successful in briefly capturing this trade from the Portuguese. The trade later became dominated by the Dutch in the 17th century. With great difficulty the French succeeded in introducing the clove tree into Mauritius in the year 1770. Subsequently, their cultivation was introduced into Guiana, Brazil, most of the West Indies, and Zanzibar.

In Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries, cloves were worth at least their weight in gold, due to the high price of importing them.

How Cloves Are Produced

Cloves are actually the dried flower buds that come from the evergreen clove tree that thrives in tropical climates. It is native to the Spices Islands (Moluccas) of Indonesia, but is grown in many other places today including Sumatra, India, Brazil, Jamaica , the West Indies,the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba (now parts of Tanzania), Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Malayasia . Indonesia leads the world in clove production.

Nearly 80% of the clove of thew world is produced by Indonesia followed by Madagascar and Tanzania. This pyramidal evergreen clove tree, grows up to 15 to 30 feet tall, has smooth grey bark and ovate 5 inches long leaves with small bell-shaped white flowers which grow in terminal clusters. The flower buds are greenish and turns pink at maturity. The seeds are oblong, soft, grooved on one side.

All parts of the clove tree are highly aromatic. Dried flower buds, which gives a sharp and spicy flavor, either whole or ground are used for culinary purposes. Clove oil, obtained by distillation, is widely used in synthetic vanilla and other flavorings as well as in perfumes. It has medicinal properties for digestive complaints, indigestion, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and used to treat cough, infertility, warts, worms, wounds and toothache etc.

The aromatic clove tree loves a tropical climate with rich soil, but it cannot take standing water. So it must be grown in a well drained area. It also prefers partial shade and a well distributed rainfall in a cooler area. The tree is propagated by its seeds which are allowed to drop naturally from the tree. The seeds can be sown directly in the ground, or sometimes are soaked overnight in water and then sown.

The clove tree will not produce flowers until it has been growing for at least 5 years. The cloves are hand picked when the buds are just turning pink, right before the flower opens. These harvested buds are sun dried which turns them a dark brown with light brown heads.

Propagation, Planting and Harvesting


Climate and Soil

Clove is a tropical plant and requires warm humid climate. Although there is a general belief that clove requires proximity to sea for the proper growth and yield, experience in India has shown that the trees do well in the hinterland conditions too. Clove thrives in all situations ranging from seal level upto an altitude of 1000 meters. Deep loam soil with high humus content found in the forest region is best suited for its cultivation. It grows satisfactorily on laterite soil, loam and rich black soil having good drainage.

It grows well in rich loamy soils of the humid tropics and can be grown successfully in the red soils as well as in the hilly terrain of the Western Ghats in India. Since the crop cannot withstand water logged conditions, clove needs good drainage. Clove prefers partial shade and a cooler climate with well distributed rainfall which is ideal for flowering.

Cloves are usually propagated by seeds or by cuttings. Fruits for seed collection are allowed to ripe on the tree itself and drop down naturally. These fruits can be sown directly or soaked in water overnight and the pericarp removed before sowing.

The seeds of the clove can be sown in a loose soil-sand mixture prepared with well rotted organic matter, on raised beds. Seeds are sown at 2-3 cm spacing at a depth of about 2 cm. The seed beds have to be protected from direct sunlight. The seeds will germinate about 10 to 15 days and can be transplanted in polythene bags containing a mixture of soil, sand and well decomposed cow dung. The seeds can also be sown directly in polythene bags filled with soil-sand-cow dung mixture and kept in a shady cool place. The seedlings are ready for transplanting in the field when they are 18-24 months old. The pits for planting the seedlings are partially filled with compost, green leaf or cattle manure and covered with top soil. Clove trees are planted in garden lands together with various other crop plants such as coconut, banana, jack, mango etc.

Under good soil and management condition, flowering begins in about five to seven years. The buds are hand-picked when the heads develop a pink caste or just before they open. At this stage, they are less than 2 cm long. The harvested flower buds are separated from the clusters and are then sun-dried. As they dry, the stems turn very dark brown and the heads become light tan in colour. Well dried cloves will be only about one-third the weight of fresh cloves. A mature tree may yield seven to 40 pounds in one harvest.
A well maintained full grown tree under favourable conditions may give four to eight kg dried buds. The average annual yield at the 15th year may be taken as two kg per tree or 400 kg per hectare.

Cloves have a very warm, pungent, sweet aroma, with a slightly astringent quality. Oil of clove is prized for its antiseptic qualities, and is often used in toothpaste and mouth washes. Both whole and ground forms keep well for years. Cloves are used widely in both sweet and savory dishes. Three essential oils are available from this spice: clove bud oil, clove stem oil and clove leaf oil. Each has different chemical composition and flavour. Clove bud oil, is the most expensive and the best quality product among the oils.

Varieties and Planting Material

Clove plantations in India are reported to have originated from a few seedlings obtained originally from Mauritius. The germplasm collections made from within the country have not therefore given appreciable variability in yield and growth factors.

Clove is propagated through seed obtained from ripened fruit, known, popularly as 'mother of clove'. Fruits are taken, from trees more than 15 years of age and of regular yielding nature. They are allowed to ripe on the trees and to drop down naturally. Such fruits are picked up from the ground and sown directly in the nursery. Otherwise fruits are soaked in water overnight and the seeds obtained after removal of the pericarp are sown. The pericarp is removed by rubbing the fruits with sand or ash. Seeds are good for better and early germination. About 250-300 fruits weigh one kilogram while 450-500 seeds are required to get the same weight. As seeds lose viability within one week after harvest under normal conditions early sowing is practiced. Only fully developed and uniform sized seeds which show signs of germination by the presence of pink radicle are ideal for sowing. Heaping the fruits for one or two days or keeping them in airtight bags leads to the death of seeds.

Nursery Practices

Raised nursery beds are prepared on fertile soil with high percentage of organic matter. The beds normally measure one metre width and two to three metre length. Seeds should be placed flat at a depth of about 2.5 cm with a spacing of 12 to 15 cm. Care should be taken to prevent leaching of the beds in rain. Germination commences in about 10 to 15 days and completes by about 45 days. The slender and delicate seedlings grow very slowly. Judicious watering is necessary throughout the nursery period to maintain optimum moisture in the soil. Seedlings can be retained in the nursery till they attain a height of 25-30 cm in six months and then grown in pots for another 12-18 months. For potting, seedlings are transferred to bamboo baskets or mud pots or Polythene bags filled with potting Mixture. Seedlings are nurtured under shade. As the root system of clove plant is delicate, potting should be done with utmost care, preferably on a rainy day. Clove can also be propagated vegetatively by grafting on its own root stock. But this type of Propagation is not popular at all.

Site Selection and Planting

The site for cultivation of clove should have good drainage since the crop cannot withstand water logging. It can be grown in coconut gardens of midland. At higher elevations it can be mix cropped with pepper or coffee. Clove requires a location protected from wind. If the site is open, wind breaks must be provided. Eastern and North Eastern hill slopes, well-drained valleys and riverbanks are ideal for clove cultivation. The crop thrives well under open condition at high altitude where there is fair distribution of rainfall.

The area selected for raising clove plantation is cleared off wild growth before monsoon. Pits of size 75 cm cube are dug at a spacing of seven metres accommodating about 200 trees per ha. If grown as an inter-crop, spacing is to be adjusted based on the main crop. Pits are filled with a mixture of compost or cattle manure and loose friable top soil. Seedlings are planted in the centre of the pits in May-June with the onset of monsoon and watered regularly. Banana may be planted to provide cool and humid atmosphere to the tender plants. Watering may be done during summer months.

Diseases of Cloves tree

There can be some problems when growing cloves. Seedling wilt is one of the most serious. This is a disease where the affected seedlings loose their luster, the leaves wilt and the tree dies. It can spread to the other clove trees. So any seedling affected with this needs to be disposed of immediately. Other problems like leaf rot, bud shedding and leaf spots can occur just as in any other plant and should be treated with sprays. There are also insects that feed on the tree which must be controlled.

The foliage of affected trees should be sprayed with carbendazim and prophylatic. The scale insects feed on plant sap and cause yellow spots on leaves and wilting of shoots and the plants present a sickly appearance. They can be controlled by spraying monocrotophos.


Plant Protection

Pests


There are only a few pests attacking clove. Among them stem borer, scales and mealy bugs are important.
Stem Borer (Sahyadrassus malabaricus):This is the most important pest of clove. The caterpillars bore into the main stem resulting in immediate drying up of the plant above the point of attack and causing the death of the plant ultimately. Regular inspection of the plants and pouring a solution of 0.1% Quinalphos into the bore hole and plugging the opening as soon as the attack is noticed, will check the damage. Clean cultivation and swabbing the surface of the stem with Carbaryl 50% wettable powder as prophylactic measure will control the pest.

Scales (Lecanium psidii) and Mealy Bugs (Planococcus sp. Psuedococus sp.): Damages due to mealy bugs occur by sucking the sap from tender shoots. Affected portions dry up gradually. Infestation of scales is on leaves and tender shoots, and is serious in the nursery. Young seedlings if attacked are killed soon. Spraying with 0.05% Monocrotophs or Dimethoate will control these pests.

Diseases

Diseases, are more damaging to clove than pests. The, important diseases are seedling wilt, leaf rot, leaf spot, twig blight, die back and sudden death.

Seedling Wilt: Seedling wilt is found mainly in nurseries and causes five to 40% death of seedlings. Leaves of affected seedlings loose natural lustre, tend to droop and ultimately die. The root system and collar region of the seedling show varying degrees of, discolouration and decay. Fungus such as Cylindrocladium sp., Fusarium sp., Colletotrichum sp., Rhizoctonia sp., and Trichoderma sp. have been isolated from infected parts. However, the actual causal agent is yet to be determined. Since the infected seedlings promote spread of the disease they are to be removed and destroyed and the nursery is drenched with any of the copper fungicides.

Leaf rot: It is caused by the fungus Cylindrocladium quinquiseptatum. It is noticed in the nurseries as well as in the main field both at young and mature stages. Infection starts as dark spots at the leaf margin and spreads sometimes with no definite pattern. Rotting may be in the whole leaf or at the tip resulting in defoliation, Seedling and young plants can be sprayed with systemic fungicides like Bavistin @ 2 g/litre of water for controlling the disease.

Last Spot, Twig Blight and Flower Bud shedding: The above diseases are caused by Colletotrichum gleosporioides. Necrotic spots of variable size and shapes are noticed on the leaves. Severely affected leaves wither, droop down and dry up. In nursery seedlings die back symptoms are seen. Twigs are infected as the symptoms extend from the leaves through petioles. The affected branches stand without leaves or only with young leaves at tips. Flower buds are attacked by spreading infection from the twigs. Shedding of flower buds occurs during periods of heavy and continuous rainfall. Spraying 1% Bordeaux Mixture at one to 1½ months interval reduces disease intensity, defoliation and flower bud shedding. Initial spray is given just prior to flower bud formation and continued till the harvest of buds.

Die Back: This disease effects young seedlings and grown up trees alike. The leaves rot and fall leading occasionally to total defoliation. The twigs also rot starting from tips and proceed downwards resulting in drying up of branches. Spraying with 1% Bordeaux mixture is effective in controlling the disease.
Sudden Death: It is a common disease in Zanzibar and Pemba The disease is reported to be caused by a fungus, Valsa eugeniae. The characteristic form of the disease occurs on apparently healthy mature trees. The first symptom is very slight chlorosis. It may persist for several weeks and is followed quite suddenly by a very rapid leaf fall accompanied by a wilt. A considerable proportion of the leaves dry up on the tree, without abscising and becomes bright russet-red within a few days. The cambium around the collar of the tree is stained bright yellow, which later spreads up the trunk and after some months the yellow stain becomes widespread throughout the tree. Sudden death is, closely related with water stress and wilting can be arrested by irrigation.


Manures for clove trees 


Organic manures can be applied as a single dose at the beginning of the rainy season in trenches dug around the trees. The fertilizers must be applied in two equal split doses in May-June and in September-October in shallow trenches dug around the plant normally about 1-1½ m away from the base.

Clove trees are to be manured regularly for proper growth and flowering. About 15 kg of rotten cattle manure or compost is applied per plant in the initial years. The quantity is increased gradually so that a well grown tree of 15 years and more gets 40 to 50 kg of organic manure. Inorganic fertilisers are applied, starting with 20 g Nitrogen (N), 18 g Phosphorus (P205) and 50 g Potash (K20) per plant in the first year, 40 g Nitrogen (N), 36 g Phosphorus (P205) and 100 g Potash (K20) per plant in the second year and gradually increased to 300 g Nitrogen (N), 250 g Phosphorus (P205) and 750 g Potash (K20) per plant for trees of 15 years and more. 

Organic manure is applied in May-June with the commencement of monsoon. Fertilisers are given in two equal split doses, one in May-June along with the organic manure and the other in September-October. For manuring shallow trench is dug around the tree about 50 to 160 cm away from the base depending upon the age.

No intercultivation is usually done for clove
. However, weeds are removed at regular intervals. As the branches of full grown trees have tendency to over crowd, thinning is done occasionally. Dead and diseased shoots should be removed once or twice a year.

Harvesting and Curing

Clove tree begins to yield from the seventh year of planting and full bearing stage is attained after 15 to 20 years. The flowering season is September to October in the plains and December to February at high altitudes.

Flower buds are formed on young flush. It takes about five to six months for the buds to become ready for harvest. The optimum stage for picking clove buds is when the buds are fully developed and the base of the calyx has turned from green to pink colour. Such clove buds are carefully picked by hand. Care should be taken to collect the buds at the correct stage as otherwise the quality of the produce will be poor to a considerable extent. When the trees are tall and the branches are beyond the reach, platform ladders are used for harvesting. Bending the branches or knocking down the bud clusters with sticks is not desirable as these practices will affect the future bearing.

The buds after separation from the stalks are spread evenly to dry, in-the sun on mats or cement floors. During nights buds should be stored undercover, lest they re-absorb moisture. The period of drying depends on the prevailing climatic conditions. Normally, it is possible to dry cloves in four or five days under direct sun and in about four hours when they are heated on zinc trays over a regulated fire. Fully dried buds develop the characteristic dark brown colour and are crisp. Improperly dried and stored cloves have much darker colour and some wheat wrinkled appearance. Such a produce is considered inferior in quality. About 8000 to 10,000 good quality clove buds would weigh one kilogram.

Clove Cultivation in India


Clove was first introduced to India around 1800 AD by the East India company in its 'spice garden' in Courtallam, Tamil Nadu. Induced by the success of its introduction, cultivation of clove was extended during the period after 1850 AD to Nilgiris (Burliar), southern region of the erstwhile Travancore State and the slopes of Western Ghats. The important clove growing districts in India now are Nilgiris, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Nagercoil and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu; Kozhikode, Kottayam, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram Districts of Kerala and South Kanara district of Karnataka. As per the estimates for 1988-89, the total area of 1855 hectares under clove cultivation in India spreads over 951 hectares in Kerala, 660 hectares in Tamil Nadu, 181 hectares in Karnataka and 63 hectares in Andaman and Nicobar islands.


Clove is used as an antiseptic, in culinary preparations, in pharmaceuticals manufacture, as an ingredient in cigarettes and even in the manufacture of toothpaste. Its multifarious use has given it a prominent place among spices. The East India company brought clove from its native home in Indonesia to company's spices gardens at Courtallam in Tamil Nadu around 1800 AD. Four of these trees have survived to this day, brining enormous profits to their present owner.

Active compounds

The compound eugenol is responsible for most of the characteristic aroma of cloves.

Eugenol comprises 72-90% of the essential oil extracted from cloves, and is the compound most responsible for the cloves' aroma. Other important essential oil constituents of clove oil include acetyl eugenol, beta-caryophyllene and vanillin; crategolic acid; tannins, gallotannic acid, methyl salicylate (painkiller); the flavonoids eugenin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and eugenitin; triterpenoids like oleanolic acid, stigmasterol and campesterol; and several sesquiterpenes.

Eugenol has pronounced antiseptic and anaesthetic properties. Of the dried buds, 15 - 20 percent is essential oils, and the majority of this is eugenol. A kilogram (2.2 lbs) of dried buds yields approximately 150 ml (1/4 of pint) of eugenol.

Eugenol can be toxic in relatively small quantities—as low as 5 ml.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ajwain - Trachyspermum ammi Cultivation -



Scientific classification
------------------------------------------------
Kingdom          : Plantae
(unranked)       : Angiosperms
(unranked)       : Eudicots
(unranked)       : Asterids
Order              : Apiales
Family             : Apiaceae
Genus             : Trachyspermum
Species           : T. ammi
Binomial name : Trachyspermum ammi
Sprague
Synonyms : Ammi copticum L.
                    Carum copticum (L.)
                    Trachyspermum copticum

Trachyspermum ammi, commonly known as ajowan, bishop's weed, ajwain, ajowan caraway, carom seeds, or thymol seeds, is a plant of India and the Near East whose seeds are used as a spice.

Characteristics

The plant has a similarity to parsley. Because of their seed-like appearance, the fruit pods are sometimes called seeds; they are egg-shaped and grayish in colour.

Ajwain is often confused with lovage seed; even some dictionaries mistakenly state ajwain comes from the lovage plant.

Flavour and aroma

Raw ajwain smells almost exactly like thyme because it also contains thymol, but is more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as slightly bitter and pungent. Even a small amount of raw ajwain will completely dominate the flavor of a dish.

In Indian cuisine, ajwain is almost never used raw, but either dry-roasted or fried in ghee or oil. This develops a much more subtle and complex aroma, somewhat similar to caraway but "brighter". Among other things, it is used for making a type of parantha, called ajwain ka parantha.

Main constituents

The essential oil (2.5 to 5% in the dried fruits) is dominated by thymol (2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol, 35 to 60%); furthermore, α-pinene, p-cymene, limonene and γ-terpinene have been found.

In the essential oil distilled from aerial parts (flowers, leaves) of ajwain grown in Algeria, however, isothymol (50%) was found to be the dominant constituent before p-cymene, thymol, limonene and γ-terpinene. Note, however, that the name isothymol is not well defined and might refer to both 2-isopropyl-4-methylphenol and 3-isopropyl-6-methylphenol (carvacrol). (Journal of Essential Oil Research,​ 15, 39, 2003)

 From South Indian ajwain fruits, almost pure thymol has been isolated (98%)
, but the leaf oil was found to be composed of monoterpenoids and sesquiterpenoids: 43% cadinene, 11% longifolene, 5% thymol, 3% camphor and others.

Origin

Eastern Mediterranean, maybe Egypt

The main cultivation areas today are Persia and India, but the spice is of little importance in global trade.

History

Ajwain originated in the Middle East, possibly in Egypt and the Indian subcontinent, but also in Iran and Afghanistan. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in berbere, a spice mixture favored in Eritrea and Ethiopia.

In India, the major ajwain producing states are Rajasthan and Gujarat, where Rajasthan produces about 90% of India's total production.


Ajwain is not very common in our days; its usage is almost confined to Central Asia and Northern India, particularly the North West (Punjab, Gujarat). It is also part of the Bihari and Nepali variant of panch phoran .

 The strong aroma is enhanced by toasting or frying and goes well with potatoes or fish. Legumes (lentils, beans) are, however, the most important field of application; in India, where these vegetables are popular since they provide a source of protein to the many vegetarians, they are commonly flavoured with a perfumed butter or vegetable oil (tarka also rendered tadka) . This seemingly simple preparation is much more sophisticated than sheer heat treatment, since most aroma compounds in spices are lipophilic and dissolve much better in fat than in water. Thus, frying in butter not only enhances the fragrance because of the high temperature, but also extracts the flavour to the fat, whence it can be dispersed throughout the food efficiently. That techique is often generally known as baghar , and it forms almost the heart of North Indian cooking .

 A typical recipe for lentils would run as follows: First, the dried and washed lentils are cooked until tender with turmeric being the only spice added. This lentil puree is then flavoured using salt and the tadka: Cumin, chiles and/or ajwain seeds are fried until they turn brown and evolve a strong aroma; if desired, garlic or asafetida and possibly grated ginger are added and after some more frying the tadka is poured over the cooked lentils. Variants may also employ dill fruits, nigella seeds or celery fruits, although the latter are not very Indian.

In Southern Indian cuisine (which has a large treasure of vegetarian recipes), tadka-like preparations are not only applied to dried legumes, but also to green vegetables and boiled rice. Most popular for this purpose are black mustard seeds which are fried until they stop popping and curry leaves, which are fried for but a few seconds. Besides clarified butter, coconut fat is common.

 In some parts of India, ajwain is is used for specific types of salty pastry, e. g., the Rajasthani biscuits called mathari . In Ladakh  pastry and in Nepal  nimki are flavoured by ajawain .

 Outside of the Indian subcontinent, ajwain is not much used. It enjoys, however, some popularity in the Arabic world and is found in berbere, a spice mixture of Ethiopia which both shows Indian and Arabic heritage .

 Ajwain is much used as a medical plant in Ayurvedic medicine (India)
. Mainly, it helps against diseases of the digestive tract and fever. In India, where any amount of tap water can result in arbitrary complications, ajwain often comes to the traveller’s rescue: Just chew one spoonful of the fruits for a few minutes and wash down with hot water. In the West, thymol is used in medicines against cough and throat irritation.

Ajwain Flowers


Uses


A Good Warm Ajwain Drink

To brew this ajwain tisane, mix 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds, a small piece of cinnamon stick and 1/4 teaspoon of ajwain seeds into a small teapot. Cover with boiling water and steep for at least five minutes. Strain the tea into a cup and sweeten if desired. This ajwain tea is considered a general tonic and is particularly good if you have a cold.

Ajwain Oil


Ajwain oil, Ajwain Terepene oil is exacted by steam distillation of the crushed seeds of Ajowan. Ajwain oil is the oil distilled from the ajwain (Carum copticum) seeds. These seeds used to make ajowan oil are small and like caraway. Ajowan oil is mainly cultivated in Persia and India. Ajowan oil is a major source


of thymol which gives ajowan oil its medical virtues. It is cultivated in black soil particularly along the riverbank throughout India and also Iran, Egypt and Afghanistan. It is a small, erect, annual shrub with soft fine hairs. The fruits are minute, egg shaped and grayish. Ajwain is pungent and bitter in taste and have spasmodic, germicidal, antiseptic, digestive, antipyretic, expectorant and tonic properties.

Medicinal uses

It is also traditionally known as a digestive aid, a relief for abdominal discomfort due to indigestion and an antiseptic. In southern parts of India, dry ajwain seeds are powdered and soaked in milk, which is then filtered and fed to babies. Many assume it relieves colic in babies, and for children it also improves digestion and appetite. Ajwain can be used as digestive mixture in large animals. In India, it is often added to heavy fried dishes to aid digestion.

A study conducted using the essential oil suggests that it has some use in the treatment of intestinal dysbiosis. Its benefit comes from being able to inhibit the growth of undesired pathogens while not adversely affecting the beneficial flora.

Growing Ajwain

Ajwain will grow in zones 3-10. In colder areas it will behave as an annual. If you have a warm aviary or a greenhouse, you should be able to keep ajwain from year to year even in the cold north land.

New plants are started by dividing the older plant in the early spring while the ajwain is still dormant. Ajwain will grow in sun, part sun, and even in a great deal of shade. It requires little care while it grows and grows and grows. Plant it in some restricted area like between the house and a nearby sidewalk to keep it from taking over the yard.

Ajawain green leaves can be used as  green vegetable  in cooking. This is a rare treat.

Cultivation Methods of Ajwain

The seeds of this crop are used as spices. Ajwain has many medicinal properties. It is widely used in traditional house hold remedies.

This plant grows well in India and is largely cultivated in eastern India. The crop can be grown on wide variety of soil from heavy clay to elite loams. Ajwain is very sensitive to water logging and need good drainage. Ajwain is tolerant to drought. The best time for sowing of this crop is early august month.

Propagation Methods

The seeds are sown directly in the field. The seeds take 8 to 10 days to geminate. Thinning should be carried out when the plant gets a height of 20 to 25 cm. 1.5kg of seeds per hectare is required for sowing.

Manure



Farm Yard manure – 25 tones

Double Superphosphate – 30kg

Muriate of Potash – 30kg

These are incorporated into the soil. Urea is applied in three equal split doses. First at the time of sowing, then subsequently two doses being at an interval of 30 days.

The plant requires about 120 to 140 days for maturity. When seeds turn full brownish the whole plant can be uprooted. The whole plants are then tied in small bundles and tacked for drying and then threshed.

Drying Ajwain Seeds

To dry  ajwain, following  steps can be followed:

Allow the flower heads to dry and form seed.

When the seed is loose and beginning to fall, clip the flower heads into a clean container.

Break the seeds away from the flower structure. The flower leavings are good for the chicken yard or the compost bin.

Pick through the seeds removing any stems or garden refuse.

Spread the seeds out in a single layer in a clean container like a cooky sheet. Allow the ajwain seed to dry for another week in a warm, dry place, away from direct sunlight.

Store the ajwain in a glass container with a snug-fitting lid. Keep in a cool cabinet or in the refrigerator to maintain the freshness of your ajwain seed.

Home Remedies with the help of Ajwain

1. A plaster made of Ajwain seeds crushed and used to relieve pain of Colic.

2. A teaspoon full of the Ajwain seeds with a little rock salt is a common domestic remedy for indigestion from irregular diet.

3. Ajwain seeds are famous for asthma sufferers, small seeds are smoked in a pipe to relieve shortness of breath.


Benefits of Ajwain/Carom

Uses of ajwain in traditional medicine form an endless list. Ajwain has been used as a cure-all for centuries. Ancient Greeks used ajwain in medications. It is still held in high regard in Ayrvedic medicine. Ajwain interest is growing and it is no wonder when you consider the many uses such as:
A water distilled from the ajwain seeds is kept as a household cure in many countries for treating flatulence, indigestion and poor appetite.

Breathing the smoke from burning the ajwain seed or inhaling the steam from boiling them in water is used to relieve toothache.

Inhaling the ajwain steam is also used to treat a runny nose, flu symptoms, any nasal congestion.

Wrapping ajwain powder in a thin cloth and smelling it frequently is also used to treat cold symptoms as well as those of migraines.

As it contains thymol, ajwain qualifies as an anti-fungal and an antibacterial. Actually, in the early 20th century this thymol was used as an anticeptic in surgery.

Cigarettes made from the ajwain seed are smoked by some people suffering from respiratory problems like asthma.

The seeds are made into poultices to relieve arthritis.

A teaspoon of ground ajwain added to a cup of boiling water is allowed to cool and is used as a gargle for sore throats.

Ajwain was and is still used as a breath freshener.