Curcuma longa L
Ginger family, Zingerberaceae.
The part of the plant used are the rhizomes which are either used fresh (like ginger) or boiled for 30-45 minutes, dried in hot ovens and then ground into a deep yellow powder used in cooking and imparting deep golden colour to food and other products. Fresh turmeric is not common but can be found in areas where it’s grown.
Perennial herb up to 1.5m tall with a fleshy complex of rhizomes. Leaves alternate, up to 70 x 18 cm long. Flowers small, white with a yellow central streak.
Flavour of Turmeric:
The taste or turmeric can be described as slightly bitter, slightly hot with a mustardy smell.
Use of Turmeric
Turmeric is cultivated for it’s rhizome, primarily as a dye source, especially in West Africa (to dye leather and cotton cloth) and secondly as a culinary spice.
It’s mainly used in savoury dishes like rice or curries, but occasionally used in sweet dishes, especially in India. Turmeric is also used as a cheap substitute for saffron (Crocus sativus), to impart colour because there is no similarity in flavour.
It’s one of the ingredients in curry powder.
Turmeric is used in the food industry, as a colouring agent, in processed foods and sauces, pharmaceuticals, confectionary and textiles.
Young shoots and rhizomes can be eaten fresh as a spicy vegetable.
It’s believed to have the potential of treating several diseases including: cancer, diabetes, dermatitis, common cold and allergies, just to mention a few.
I love using turmeric because it imparts a nice colour to rice but it also enhances the flavour that would otherwise be bland.