The Cardamom harvest got under way in October, and has been going strong ever since.
A typical house surrounded by cardamom fields.
The tops of the plants are big reaching leafy fronds,
at the base are the flowers and seed pods.
Although they look the same from the outside, some pods are ready to pick (those with the black seeds) and some are still immature (those with the white). Those in the know go through and invariably pluck the ones with black, coming back through two to three weeks later to get the next round of ripe cardamom further down on the stem.
It's tiring work, requiring bending over to the ground to reach the seed pods.
Once picked, they are gathered together and taken to the cooperative...
...where they are bought and put into huge wood-fired driers. Once dry, the coop sells the "pergamino" abroad where it is processed. I haven't met any Guatemalans who have tasted cardamom, despite it being the main income in my community and many villages in my area.
I bought some cardamom while home in the States for the holidays.
If anyone knows a simple recipe using cardamom, please post it in the comments.
I'd love to share the flavor with my host family and the women in my cooking groups.