Turmeric is a member of the ginger family that is extensively cultivated in India, China, Indonesia, and other tropical countries.  In cooking, the rhizome root is the part that is utilized.  It has a tough brown skin and deep orange flesh, and is similar to ginger with smaller branched arms 1 to 1 ½ inches around.  It is usually cured (boiled, cleaned, and sun-dried), polished, and ground into a powder.  Turmeric’s flavor is peppery, warm, and bitter, while its fragrance is mild, yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger.


Health Benefits

Turmeric has been and still is a key component of both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine, where it is used as an anti-inflammatory agent and in the treatment of numerous conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.


How to Select and Store

Fresh turmeric should be free of dark spots and be crisp.  It may be stored in the refrigerator, where it will keep for one month.  Alternatively, it can be chopped or sliced and stored in an airtight container for up to three months.


Quick Serving Ideas:

  • To make your own curry powder, combine in a grinder 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon mustard seed, ½ tablespoon coriander, and 1 teaspoon each fenugreek, fennel, ginger, and turmeric. Store the mixture in a cool, dark, dry place for up to six months.
  • Mix 2 cups cooked brown rice, ¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup cashews, and 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with ¼ teaspoon each turmeric, cumin, coriander, and salt.
  • Turmeric is a great spice to complement recipes that feature legumes, particularly lentils.
  • Add turmeric to egg salad to give it an even bolder yellow color and richer flavor.
  • Give salad dressings an orange-yellow hue by adding some turmeric powder to them.


Source: Murray, M. (2006) The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, Pocket Books.