Turmeric

Turmeric


Image

Common Name:  Turmeric, Haldi, Indian Saffron, Ukon, Nghe, Wong-Keong.

Latin Name:  Curcuma longa.

Origin:  Southern Asia.

Description (what it looks like):  A herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family that reaches up to 1m tall.  Highly branched, yellow to orange, cylindrical, aromatic rhizomes are found in the soil at base of plant.  Each will produce a beautiful pink flower surrounded by lush wide green leaves, if left undisturbed for a year.  The flower is so attractive that it is worth growing for this alone.

Uses (function):  The harvested rhizomes are boiled and sun-dried for 7-8 days but can be used fresh.  It is also used as a yellow food dye, replacing tetrazine.  Wrap foods in the leaves to cook to impart delicious turmeric flavour.  Beautiful foliage and flowers making a great ornamental feature in a subtropical garden.  Provides shelter and shade to more sensitive smaller plants.  Edible and medicinal.  Good in small amounts ground in pet food for joint and heart health.  Excellent understory plant for a permaculture system.  Traditional curry powder comprises 25% ground turmeric.

Nutritional value:  Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, is believed to halt an enzyme that may be responsible for turning environmental toxins into carcinogens within the body.  It also improve digestion of fats and sugars and helps alleviate inflammation in the digestive system.  Consuming turmeric and black pepper (contains piperine) together, has been shown to dramatically increase the absorption and effects of turmeric.  The first recorded use of turmeric dates back to 600BC.

Growing details (propagation, seed etc):  Small rhizomes (setts) with one or two buds should be planted 5-7 cm deep, on a ridge or mould of soil directly into the garden.  Space 30-45cm apart.  Harvesting from 9-10 months after planting (typically winter), when the lower leaves turn yellow or dry out and fall over.  Clumps of turmeric need to be broken up and fresh pieces planted every 3-4 years.  Store some to replant in the following spring/summer.

Best time to grow:  Plant turmeric in September or October, into a warm soil.

Soil:  Will grow in most soils.  Performs well in loose, dark & fertile soil.

Sun:  Both full sun and dense shade.  Heavy shade reduces the yield.

Water:  Free draining but moist location.  Dislikes waterlogging.  Ideal for locations that receive 1000-2000mm of rain annually or supplementary irrigation.

How to eat it:  Has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustard smell.  Mostly used in savory dishes but is used in some sweet dishes.  Leaves can be used to wrap food for cooking.  Typically used in its dried, powdered form, turmeric is also used fresh, like ginger, by grating and cooking with onions before adding other vegetables.  Ideal in Indian curries, rice and vegetarian dishes.  Pickles made with large chunks of soft turmeric are delightful.  Used to color and enhance the flavors of meals.  To make yellow rice, use one teaspoon to colour one cup of raw rice.  Enjoy it as a tea or the medicinal drink Jamu.

References:

Images references:


Share this Post