Turmeric is (Curcuma longa) is a fascinating plant known for its vibrant golden color and numerous health benefits. It’s super easy to grow, it just requires some patience so it’s best to plant some more rhizomes each spring, as the weather begins to warm up, to set yourself up with a never ending supply.
how to grow
Turmeric thrives in tropical and subtropical climates and do not tolerate frost or cold winters well. Given their need for a lengthy growing season, it can be challenging to grow them successfully in colder regions (lower than zone 8).
In colder regions, start indoors then transplant outside when the weather warms up. Protect from cold spells.
- You can buy rhizomes online or you can plant what you find for sale at the grocery store.
- Grow in the ground: Plant in well-draining, loose soil without any rocks or tree roots that will prevent the rhizomes from spreading.
- Grow in grow bags: Grrowbags are fantastic for root crops! Just keep building them up with leaves and organic matter and chop and drop. It will get there, eventually.
- Plant when the weather starts warming up, usually in February, and begin harvestingat the end of the year. They make good Christmas presents.
when to harvest turmeric
It takes a few weeks after planting for the leaves to sprout. After about 8-10 months, the leaves turn yellow and start to die back, then it is time to harvest.
I cut the brown leaves up into smaller pieces, and throw back on the soil to serve as mulch.
How to prepare
- Use like garlic. Chop the into little pieces, and I cook them alongside chicken, in rice, tacos, veggies, noodles, and more.
- Make powder- Peel and cut into small chunks. Set them out to dry in the sun or use a dehydrator until brownish and dry. Grind in a spice grinder
What to do with your harvest
Turmeric is not only a healthy spice but also a versatile ingredient that can elevate the flavor and nutritional value of your dishes.
- Golden Milk: Combining turmeric, warm milk (dairy or plant-based), honey, and a sprinkle of black pepper.
- Curries: Add a vibrant twist to curries with turmeric powder or grated root for a warm, earthy flavor and beautiful yellow hue.
- Creamy Turmeric Soup: Blend roasted vegetables with turmeric, coconut milk, vegetable broth, and spices for a nourishing and comforting soup.
- Turmeric Smoothies: Boost your morning smoothies with a teaspoon of turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root, along with fruits, greens, ginger, and your choice of liquid.
- Turmeric Marinades: Create flavorful marinades by combining turmeric with garlic, ginger, lemon juice, olive oil, and preferred herbs and spices for chicken, tofu, or vegetables.
How to store
- Store whole rhizomes in the fridge in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Store turmeric powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place. Protected from moisture, heat, and direct sunlight, it can retain its quality and flavor for up to 2 to 3 years.
- In the freezer: store in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel to maintain quality for up to 6 months or longer.
Is it bad?
When turmeric rhizomes go bad, there are a few signs to watch out for:
- Mold or Discoloration: Mold growth or a significant change in color, such as dark spots or patches on the rhizomes, is an indication that they have spoiled.
- Softness or Sponginess: Rhizomes should have a firm texture. If they become soft, mushy, or develop a spongy consistency, discard them.
- Foul Odor: Fresh turmeric has a pleasant, earthy aroma. If the rhizomes emit a strong, unpleasant odor or any signs of rotting, it’s a clear sign that they have gone bad.
Ground Turmeric Powder
- Aroma: Fresh turmeric powder has a distinct, earthy fragrance. If the powder smells musty, rancid, or has no aroma at all, it may have lost its potency and flavor.
- Color: Turmeric powder should have a vibrant yellow or golden hue. If the color has faded significantly or appears dull, then it could be an indication that the powder is no longer fresh.
- Taste: The flavor of good-quality turmeric powder is slightly bitter and warm. If the powder tastes bland, stale, or has an off-flavor, it might have degraded.
- Freezer Burn: If you notice whitish or grayish patches on the surface of the frozen turmeric, it may indicate freezer burn. Freezer burn can affect the flavor and texture of the turmeric, resulting in a dry and deteriorated quality.
- Changes in Texture: If the frozen turmeric becomes excessively soft, mushy, or develops an unusual texture, it could be a sign that it has spoiled.
- Off Odor: Frozen turmeric should have a mild, earthy scent. If you detect any off or unpleasant odors, it’s an indication that the turmeric has gone bad.
Fun facts about turmeric
- I has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional medicine for its healing properties.
- It is a member of the ginger family and is referred to as the “golden spice” due to its vibrant yellow color.
- It is native to South Asia and is widely cultivated in countries like India, Indonesia, and China.
- The active compound is called curcumin, is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Used as a natural dye to color fabrics, including traditional Indian saris and robes.
- Has been used for cosmetic purposes, including skincare and hair treatments.
- It plays a significant role in Indian cuisine, giving dishes like curry their distinctive flavor and color.
- It has been used as a natural preservative in food due to its antimicrobial properties.
- It has a long history of use in religious and cultural ceremonies in many parts of the world.
- In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed to promote circulation, support digestion, and relieve pain.