From the Food Forest in June - Turmeric
Having enjoyed the beautiful lush, green leaves and delicate white flowers of our turmeric growing over the last few months (summer – autumn flowering – the flowers last well in a vase), we will now be able to harvest some of the fresh rhizomes as the foliage dies down in winter and use them as we need them.
All sorts of claims have been made about the benefits of adding turmeric to our diet. It’s supposed to help fight colds, flu, dementia, obesity, arthritis inflammation, and the list goes on. Hervey Bay Garden Club member Julie Nash has been surfing the web to find out more and is sharing the results of her search with readers of From the Food Forest.
The turmeric, being a relative of ginger, can be treated much like ginger. The rhizome is smaller and darker in colour (orange). The main way to use it is as a colouring - it is used commercially as the curcumin colouring in curry paste. If too much fresh turmeric is added to anything it can apparently taste somewhat bitter – replace powered turmeric in any recipe with twice the amount of fresh rhizome. Like ginger, fresh leaves can finely chopped and added to curries like beef rendang.
After digging down just below the surface of the soil, break off a little finger or knobby rhizome, however much you need, and wash it. It can be peeled before use with either a vegetable peeler or scraped with a knife or spoon. Turmeric is much easier to grate than ginger and can be squeezed easily through a garlic press to produce a paste (because it is a natural dye, it might be wise to wear plastic gloves and wipe down the surface straight away). Surplus rhizomes can be frozen or pickled.
Uses for fresh turmeric:
• Try grating some into scrambled eggs, quiches, frittatas or omelettes, marinades for chicken, fish or vegetables or soups and stir fries
• Try thinly sliced or chopped into pickles, soups, rice, lentils, salads, mashed potato etc
• Try the paste or liquid in your morning juice or smoothie, bread dough, pumpkin pie or salad dressings
• Turmeric tea can be made with grated turmeric, honey and a sprinkle of freshly grated black pepper (the black pepper helps with the absorption of the turmeric)
• Fresh turmeric leaves can be used for wrapping food to cook, or as serving platters or disposable plates
• Dyeing wool or other fabrics
Turmeric Marinade for Chicken - this is enough to marinade about 450 gm of chicken. In a bowl combine 1 cup of natural yoghurt, ¼ cup of olive oil 1 tsp. grated fresh turmeric root, 1 tsp. grated ginger root, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp. ground cumin, ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 small clove garlic minced, and 1 tsp salt. Add the chicken and massage the marinade into it until evenly coated. Seal the bowl with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cooking.
Pickled Turmeric (Indian Recipe) - peel and slice fresh turmeric a little thicker than matchsticks and mix with lemon juice, a little chilli powder and salt in a jar; can add carrot sticks, long hot peppers and lemon wedges and store in the fridge; serve as a side of pickled vegetable to an Indian meal.
Anti-Inflammatory Shots - ginger and turmeric are both known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Shots are full of Vitamin C, antioxidants and antiviral qualities. This drink can help soothe sore throats and cure upset stomachs. (Avoid taking turmeric when taking drugs related to diabetes that lower blood sugar). Combine ½ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, 12mm piece of fresh ginger grated, 12mm piece of fresh turmeric grated and 2 tablespoons of honey; stir well and enjoy.
For those of you who like baking there are many turmeric cake recipes available including the delicious Lebanese Sfouf.
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