Archive for Curcuma longa

Turmeric… A Food for Everyone

Posted in Edible Rhizomes with tags , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by PickMeYard

Turmeric is a  food that heals.  It has great medicinal value.  So why isn’t it a part of our everyday cuisine in America? I wish it were.  I have been taking steps to make it a part of our everyday meals. 

Turmeric Rhizome.

Turmeric is the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant.  It’s in the ginger family and I grew some just like I did with the ginger rhizomes.  I purchased my turmeric rhizomes at a health food store in the produce section (right next to the ginger).  I put the rhizomes in a big pot and lightly covered them with soil.  Then I waited patiently.  It took awhile for them to grow but it was worth the wait.  The plant is absolutely lovely.

This is my turmeric growing in a pot. I think I planted this around March, but I didn't take note of my planting date.

This is turmeric that I planted in the ground two years ago. It goes dormant in the winter and comes back beautifully in the summer.

Turmeric  is a warm and humid weather plant.  It goes dormant in the winter in my zone 9b in Southwest Florida.  My turmeric survived an extremely harsh Florida winter this past year, which surpised me.  It is generally harvested on an annual basis after about 9 months of growing.   Extra rhizome is usually saved to continue growing more.  I have turmeric growing in two places in my yard and both are in full sun, but get some shade from other plants.  They are healthy and happy. 

After turmeric is harvested,  it is boiled, dried and ground up into a powder.  When the rhizome is peeled (it has a very thin skin) it has a deep orange color to it.  The main substance in turmeric is Curcumin and this is also what gives it the orange color.

Fresh turmeric.

More fresh sliced turmeric.

When fresh turmeric is sliced open, it will stain your fingers and it’s not easy to remove.  It will also stain your teeth.   I like to slice a small piece off and put it in the blender with milk and honey… my own special turmeric milkshake.  My husband and I both love it this way.   It’s quick, easy, tastes great and doesn’t stain our teeth. 

Turmeric is touted as a powerful anti-inflammatory as well as a powerful antioxidant.  It is also considered a cancer fighting food.  I have heard many times over the years that it doesn’t take much of it to provide extraordinary benefits.  A lunch of curried vegetables would suffice.  Everything in moderation.  To read more about the health benefits of turmeric and it’s side effects, click here.

 The list of health benefits from consuming turmeric is long.  So are the delicious ways to include it in your meals.  Turmeric is good stuff!

Curcuma longa. The leaves can be used to wrap foods in for cooking. (The plant on the bottom left is a frangipani and the bottom right is a hibiscus).

Don’t let your bottle of ground turmeric be forgotten in your spice drawer.  Does yours have dust on the cap?  Blow the dust off and add a couple of pinches to some plain yogurt with a little honey and cinnamon and start enjoying the awesome benefits.  I really enjoy the taste of  fresh turmeric so I like to grow my own.  It feels great to have it whenever I feel for it and all I have to do is stick a knife in the soil and cut a little piece off.  It’s so easy.  I’ve also heard that it deters ants in the garden too. 

Come grow with us!