Kerala Spices

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India is known as the ‘The home of spices’. There is no other country in the world that produces as many kinds of spices as India. The climate of the country is suitable for almost all spices. Spices constitute an important group of agricultural commodities which are virtually indispensable in the culinary art. In India, spices are important commercial crops from the point of view of both domestic consumption and export
 
Kerala’s history is closely linked with its commerce, which in turn was wholly dependent until recent times on its spice trade. Kerala was known for its spices and travellers around the world journeyed here to trade and to gain control over this rich land. It is believed that the spice trade dates back to three thousand years. Pepper still remains the king of Kerala’s spices, but the state also has a very rich produce in cardamom, cinnamon , nutmeg, mace, ginger and turmeric. As in the past , the state continues to be the spice capital of the world
 
Spices of Kerala are famous for their distinct taste and flavor. Mostly used as condiments that flavor food, the spices of Kerala have several other uses. Some of these are used for seasoning and garnishing purposes. Others are used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Over twelve varieties of spices, including ginger, garlic, cardamom, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon, coffee, tea, clove and nutmeg are cultivated in Idukki and the surrounding areas

Cardamom

Scientific Name: Elletteria Cardamom – Best altitude for cultivation : 1500 m above see level. Temperature : 10 – 25°C. Rainfall required. 1500 mm. Propagation : Seedlings and vegetative propagation. Pollinating agent : The honey bee. Harvest season : October to February

Vanilla

Scientific Name : Vanilla Fragrans – Rainfall Required : 1500 – 3000 mm Propagation : Shoot cutting. Pollination: Artificial
The rostellum of the flower is pushed back with a pointed bamboo splinter and the overhanging anther is pressed against the stigma with the thumb, thus smearing pollen over it. The ideal time for pollination is 0600 to 1300 hrs

A tropical orchid requires a warm climate with frequent rains; Vanilla grows best in uncleared jungle areas where it can get filtered sunlight. A creeper, the plant requires support up to a height of about 135 cm. The plant usually begins to flower by the third year. The bean takes 10 to 12 months to reach full maturity

Pepper

Scientific Name : Piper Nigrum – Temperature : Tolerance -10° C to 40° C. Optimum -20°C to 30°C. Rainfall required : 2500 mm. Propagation : Stem cutting. Important varieties : Panniyur -1, Karimunda, Kuthiravally, Arakkulam Munda, Balankotta and Kalluvally

The pepper plant grows best in a warm and humid climate. Berries mature and are ready for harvest in about 180 to 200 days. Black pepper is produced by sun drying the mature pepper berries for 3 – 5 days after they are separated from the spikes by threshing and white pepper by retting mature berries in clean water for 5 – 7 days, removing the outer skin and drying the seed after thorough washing

Clove

Scientific Name : Eugenia Caryophyllus – Clove trees begin to bear flowers 7-8 years after planting. Unopened flower buds are carefully picked when they turn from green to pink. The buds are then allowed to dry for 4-5 days till they become crisp and dark brown in colour

Cinnamon

Scientific Name : Cinnamon Zeylanicum – Cinnamon plants are ready for harvest about 3 years after planting. Harvesting is done twice year – in May and November. The bark of the cut down shoots is split on the day of harvest itself and dried in the sun for 2 – 5 days. The dry quills or bark are packed in bundles for trade. Leaves and tender twigs are used for extraction of oil by distillation

Netmeg

Scientific Name : Myristica Fragrans – The Nutmeg tree bears fruit throughout the year, but peak harvest season is from December to May. The nuts split open when the fruits are fully ripe. After dehusking, the red feathery aril (mace) is removed, flattened out and dried in the sun for 10 – 15 days. The nuts are dried separately for 4 – 8 weeks till the kernels rattle within the shells

Ginger

Ginger is used since time immemorial. It is a major crop cultivated in India and marketed as fresh and dried spice. It is a small grassy plant grown in all seasons throughout the year. Indian Ginger is famous for its flavour, texture and taste

More than a spice ginger is considered as a taste maker, a drug, an appetizer and a flavourant. Superior quality of ginger is produced from Kerala though it is grown throughout the country. The congenial climate and the fertile soil helps to produce quality ginger

Turmeric

Turmeric is the dried rhizome of a herbaceous plant. It is the most popular spice as a beauty aid. The spice is sometimes called ‘Indian Saffron’. Indian turmeric has been known to the world since ancient times. Its antiseptic and preservative properties make Indian turmeric an ideal choice as a food flavour, an effective ingredient in medicines and cosmetics. It is an antidote against poison

As a beauty aid turmeric paste prevents and cures pigmentation, maintains pH factor and makes skin glowing. Taken internally it purifies the blood. With all its unique properties, Indian turmeric is considered the best in the world