Oil profiles: Cardamom
Sarah-Eve Tremblay, M. Sc. A., chimiste
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is part of the Zingiberaceae family, just like ginger, curcuma and plai. It is a perennial shrub that can reach a height of 2,5 meters with thick lateral roots on which the seeds grow. The cardamom seeds are harvested from a pod, from which they are removed prior to be powdered. These are mainly used as a spice for cooking to enhance the taste of curries, coffees, cakes and meats. Essential oil of cardamom is used as flavoring in a variety of foods, drinks, sweets and sauces. Cardamom is mainly grown in southern India, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Guatemala and Morocco .
Essential oil of cardamom is mostly composed of monoterpenes. One of the main compounds is 1,8-cineole (E) at more than 20%. α-Pinene (A) (0,5% to 2,5%), sabinene (B) (1% to 5,5 %), myrcene (C) (up to 3%) and limonene (D) (1,4% to 7%) are also part of the monoterpenes present in cardamom essential oil.
Some monoterpenic alcohols like linalool (F) between 1% and 7%, terpinen-4-ol (G) between 0,2% and 3%, and α-terpineol (H) up to 8% are also present, as well as monoterpenic esters like linalyl acetate (I) between 1% and 9% and α-terpinyl acetate (J) between 30% and 50%. The essential oil of cardamom is one of the richest in α-terpinyl acetate, which makes it unique. One of the characteristic sesquiterpenes of cardamom is a sesquiterpenic alcohol, (E)-nerolidol (K), which varies from 0,3% to 2%. In certain cases, the presence of coronarin E (L), a diterpene, has also been noticed during routine analyses.
 Singh, G., Kiran, S., Marimuthu, P., Isidorov, V., Vinogorova, V. (2008) Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of essential oil and various oleoresins of Elettaria cardamomum (seeds and pods), J. Sci. Food Agric. 88: 280-289.