Several months ago my mother came home with these things that looked like ginger roots, but smaller and thinner. I asked what they were and she said ‘turmeric’. She had bought them for medicinal reasons (we use a lot of herbal and aromatherapy concoctions in my household) but I also knew it had culinary value as well. Curious, I tried using it in a recipe or two but found it more hassle than it was worth. It’s very sticky and makes a huge mess, the color gets on EVERYTHING! So I have returned to turmeric in the powdered form. The rest of the batch have been planted and are sprouting quite nicely in our garden where they should provide medicinal relief for many months to come
Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, and while it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color.
Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric was traditionally called “Indian saffron” because of its deep yellow-orange color and has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye.
Turmeric is native to Indonesia and southern India, where it has been harvested for more than 5000 years. It has served an important role in many traditional cultures throughout the East, including being a revered member of the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. While Arab traders introduced it into Europe in the 13th century, it has only recently become popular in Western cultures. Much of its recent popularity is owed to the recent research that has highlighted its therapeutic properties. The leading commercial producers of turmeric include India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Haiti and Jamaica.
How to Select and Store
Even through dried herbs and spices are widely available in supermarkets, explore the local spice stores or ethnic markets in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness than those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried spices, try to select organically grown turmeric since this will give you more assurance that the herb has not been irradiated.
Turmeric powder should kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. Fresh turmeric rhizome should be kept in the refrigerator.