Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), native from the Malabar coast, grows in the humid and very fertile fields of the Verapaces, Quiche, Huehuetenango and Izabal regions in Guatemala. Cardamom is a shrub with leaves 2 to 3 meters high and comparable to reeds.
Guatemala is the world’s largest producer of cardamom seeds. More than 350 000 families cultivate that crop on an estimated surface of 63,000 hectares. Most of those producers belong to communities and are indigenous from the Q’eqchi, Poqomchí, Quiché ethnic groups.
Cardamom pods are carefully harvested and hand-picked between September and April. At this stage, the green fruit is called “cereza”. The fruits are then dried into “pergamino”, which is the spice commonly known. The different colors and sizes of pods represent different qualities. They hold around 20 small black seeds, containing the essential oil. Thanks to its extensive field experience and thorough testing, NELIXIA can select cardamom pods according to its customers’ specifications.
Our cardamom Essential oil
Dried cardamom pods are grinded to allow better oil extraction, before being steam-distilled. The oil produced then undergoes a final preparation, to allow it to reach its full aromatic potential. Our essential oil differentiates through its very clean, both fresh and aromatic odor, as well as through its taste that makes you fell like you were chewing a seed.
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Myroxylon balsamum pereirae is a tree native form Central America, growing up to 34m in height and 1 m in diameter, with evergreen pinnate leaves up to 15 cm long with 5-13 leaflets.
El Salvador is the only country producing Peru Balsam resin in the world. The main Peru Balsam producing region is located along the South Coast of El Salvador and is known as “Costa Balsamera” extending from Sonsonate to La Libertad. The best quality location is the region of Chiltiupan. Production is so particular and ancestral, that is it a know-how transmitted from generation to generation among families of small producers.
Peru Balsam resin harvest is amazingly complicated and can only be performed by a skilled producer. In a first time, harvesters climb the balsam trees with a torch and they partially burn the bark on certain sides of the trunk, permitting easy bark-removal after a few days.
They know exactly the size of the incision they need to do to the bark to preserve the tree and always leave some parts untouched. They place a piece of rag over the incision and the balsam starts exuding into it. Rag and bark pieces are then boiled separately and pressed using an ancestral method. This operation yields crude balsam, which is then purified.
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Liquidambar styraciflua is a tree native form Central America, growing up to 46 m in height and 1m in diameter, with evergreen leaves up to 15 cm long with 3-7 lobes.
Honduras is the only country producing Styrax gum in the world. The Styrax trees are located throughout Honduras and can be found singly or in clusters in the forests that are generally state property and have been given in concession to communities. They can also be found as shade for coffee plantations. The main Styrax producing regions are Olancho and “la biosfera del rio platano” Styrax harvest is very ancestral in Honduras, especially among the Pech tribe.
In a first time, harvesters conduct the “pica” which consists in making a horizontal incision (huaca) in the tree with an axe. Dimensions of those incisions respond to ancestral know-how by local harvesters, not to damage the tree.
Around 15 days later, harvesters come back to the trees and collect the crude resin accumulated within the incision with a spoon. This resin is brought to our collecting centers, quality controlled and then sent to our factory, where we purify it (dehydration and filtration).
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Our patchouli essential oil
Dried patchouli leaves from our communities are steam distilled in stainless steel stills to produce a highly qualitative, sustainable patchouli essential oil
Patchouli (Pogostemon Cablin) is a tropical plant native from India, now grown mainly in Indonesia between 400 to 1000 m above sea level. It is a fast growing shrub reaching up to 1 m high. Its leaves are very similar to those of mint, but larger. They are extremely fragrant, especially when dried and subjected to a fermentation process.
Patchouli production in Guatemala is a new crop developed by NELIXIA to offer an alternative to unsustainable and non-traceable products. We control the entire chain of production, from seedlings to agricultural plantation, distillation and quality control.
Given the limited existing literature on patchouli and novelty in Guatemala, we set up a R&D protocol to learn how to work locally with this plant. Starting with a 70-year old acclimatized plant, we implemented a 50 ha plantation in order to develop a specific operating manual.
NELIXIA has imagined its own agricultural productions as a research center in order to develop a real expertise that could be transmitted to local communities :
– Propagation: Nursery 1 ha – humidity tests, type of ground…
– Plantation dedicated to R&D – Test of shading, association, maintenance, type of cut…
– Drying: Structure on several floors – Tests of drying duration, fermentation …
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