I love the treat of finding fresh tumeric to cook with. There's nothing like that initial spice fragrance of fresh ginger, turmeric and garlic hitting the pan, sizzling around and filling the kitchen with it's soft spicy aroma.
Turmeric is a rhizomatous plant from the ginger family. It is native to South Asia and grows best in climates of 20-30ºC where there is also consistent rainfall. In Southern Asia, turmeric grows wild!
Turmeric is used both for it's flavour and also it's colour. In the kitchen, turmeric is most commonly used in spiced dishes and curries, but can also be used in many applications such as icecream, yoghurt, baked and sweet goods for colouring.
It is thought that the very first use of turmeric in Ancient times, was probably as a dye. Turmeric is still used today, very successfully, in natural dyeing applications. It gives a gentle, golden glow. In Medieval Europe, turmeric was known as 'Indian Saffron' due to it's colouring qualities, and it was quite often used as a more economical option than the expensive saffron threads.
turmeric leaves to wrap and cook food as well as adding the leaves to meals such as curries.
The active ingredient in turmeric is 'curcumin'. Turmeric is said to be of the fire element and brings a peppery, warm but slightly bitter flavour. Ayurvedic medicine credits turmeric for it's anti inflammatory properties, as well as it's positive effects on the digestive system. Turmeric stimulates the gall bladder muscles, which in turn increases the bile flow which is required to digest fats. It is believed that if turmeric is consumed in a meal that it may bind to cholesterol substances, rendering them incapable of absorption by the body. Due to the positive digestive properties, turmeric is often used in alternative therapies, for gastro-intestinal balancing, IBS and other digestive disorders. When eaten raw, turmeric is said to also have cartilage strengthening properties as well as having a positive effect on bone structure. There's many reasons to incorporate turmeric into your diet, many of which you can read about here.
Turmeric is not only limited to culinary and dyeing uses. It is also highly revered in the cosmetics industry. Creams are made containing turmeric, for the antiseptic properties as well as it's reported anti-aging properties. Turmeric is used alot in ceremony around the world. From bride beautification in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, to other religious ceremonies around the world to invoke God's, given as offerings to the Spirit's and also in power and purification rituals.
If your climate conditions on your property are compatible with tumeric's ideal growing situation, and you are interested to grow turmeric yourself to have available fresh turmeric or to be able to use the leaves in your cooking, then Green Harvest carries the rhizomes to plant. In a garden environment, growing turmeric is said to repel ants.
And if you'd like just to pick up a handful of this amazing spice to give it a try fresh in your cooking, then be sure to keep an eye for this golden delight randomly gracing the extra's table at FIG!