At our house, we generally like interesting ethnic flavors, like turmeric.
However, since I’m really the only one obsessed with really great Indian food, getting the teenagers interested in this flavor was going to be a challenge.
Recently, Hayden (my eldest’s significant companion) asked if I knew anything about turmeric. I knew a little, but not enough to carry on a coherent conversation about it.
So, I went to look.
We’re going to talk about what I found right here, as well as some more in the coming months.
There’s tons of stuff you can do with turmeric.
It’s super tasty, and it promotes great health while supporting recovery or maintenance from a variety of health issues.
A few of the great things that turmeric can do for you are powerful anti-inflammatory aspects to help with excess inflammation, such as arthritis, IBS, Chron’s disease, as well as some kinds of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.
In short, consuming turmeric regularly can help sort out or lower your risk of many different conditions. There’s been a lot of studies conducted to support the benefits of turmeric.
Turmeric boosts the body’s ability to better utilize antioxidants to help battle free radicals that can lead to premature internal and external aging. It is also beneficial in treating depression and anxiety, and improving brain function.
There’s lots of buzz about turmeric and it’s health benefits.
Since we tried it, I thought I’d share what we’ve learned and what our future plans are involving turmeric.
For those who just can’t take the flavor, there are lots of encapsulated products available for consumption. We tried this one, and liked it quite well. One Minute Nutrition’s version of turmeric is clean and organic, as well as cost efficient. There are also a number of concentrated products that I hear are excellent, but we didn’t try any of those.
For those who don’t mind or enjoy the taste of turmeric … We’re gonna have some fun!
First, we’re going to look at growing turmeric. It’s really not difficult at all.
When you grow turmeric, you won’t be harvesting its leaves, but the roots instead. It grows underground like ginger root. Turmeric doesn’t produce seeds for propagation, which means you’ll use the roots from one plant to start your next one.
You can usually find fresh turmeric roots at some local nurseries or online stores. If you’re in Southern Oregon, Redwood Nursery in Grants Pass has all kinds of unique plants. If you’re not in Southern Oregon, give Ed a call or fly him an email. I’m pretty sure he’d ship you whatever you need.
You can also sometimes find it at the farmer’s markets, or natural foods palace. Plan on purchasing more than you think you’ll need, as they usually don’t all sprout.
Turmeric is really one of the easiest crops to grow.
These plants are tough, and can take just about any environmental challenge there is.
Turmeric likes it best well-drained soil, but it’s also been known to do well drier, clay-based soils. This plant likes midday shade.
If you’ve ever grown ginger, it’s pretty much the same thing.
In places where it’s warmer most of the time, turmeric can be in the ground over winter through its dormancy period. If you live somewhere that has regular hard frosts in the winter, you’ll want to dig your roots in the fall, or harvest from containers or grow bags or contractor bags (like I love to do with potatoes!) The main thing is that your roots don’t freeze.
Of course, any planting should be done in the spring, once you’ve passed the last frost date. You can also grow turmeric indoors in a container. Once you’ve picked your spot to plant outdoors, and have a few seed roots, all you have to do is plant them.
If you have one large root that looks like a ginger roof, simply cut it apart, and start several plants.
The easiest way to these babies to sprout is to place the root under a couple of inches of good, loose, organic potting soil. I like Happy Frog, as well as a local blend of soil, but there are many good ones out there.
If the root has knobs or buds, that’s where the sprouts will likely come from first. Turn it so that they’re facing up. Keep it damp but not wet, or you’ll get root-rot. It may take a few weeks, but you should see sprouts poking up through the soil.
Turmeric is a tall and attractive plant, with pleated leaves that should reach about four feet tall if all is well. Then come the flowers in summer, and they are glorious!! Be sure to deadhead turmeric regularly.
Once your plants are growing well and thriving, you can pretty much leave them alone.
In winter, you won’t need to water much at all, but when the growing season begins, it’s important to water frequently to keep the soil moist.
Bi-monthly or weekly feedings with a good organic liquid fertilizer are perfect and necessary. Turmeric is a hungry plant, and will benefit from regular nutrients. You can also side dress with worm castings or a seabird guano blend.
These plants are rarely bothered by pests or diseases. You may find aphids from time to time, but you can get rid of them by blasting them away with the hose, or you can populate your area with praying mantis. Either are good.
Turmeric isn’t harvested throughout the growing season, as you would with leafy plants. You’re wanting those roots, and you want them to be as robust as possible. You’ll be investing 8 months or so, and you should plan on one harvest a year. When the leaves are starting to yellow and dry out, it’s time to dig!
All you have to do is dig up the plant, cut the roots away, and then wash away the soil. If you’re using containers, grow bags, or contractor bags, just dump them out or cut the side of the contractor bag.
To start a new plant crop in its place, use one or two pieces of the root.
Now that you’ve grown it, what are you gonna do with it?
To use your turmeric, you’ll need to peel the roots. Turmeric will stain your skin – and everything else it touches – so be sure to use gloves, and be mindful of not getting it all over the place.
Storing it is easy; keep your unpeeled roots in an airtight container and place it in a cool, dark place. The roots will remain good and edible for up to six months.
You can certainly turn it into a powder to capsulize, and it’s best to do this on an “as needed” basis for freshness and potency. You can also use it sliced or minced. Bear in mind, this is fresh turmeric, and is going to be a lot more intense in flavor than what you’re going to find in a jar at the store. A little dab will do ya.
There are so many ways to use turmeric!
The possibilities are just about endless, and I’ve rounded up some of my personal favorites to share…
Science and research has shown that turmeric may be even better for fighting the pain of arthritis than drugs, thanks to its active compound, curcumin. A 2012 study published in Phytotherapy Research, found that it was more effective for alleviating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in particular, including swelling and tenderness of joints than several common RA medications.
The beneficial effects may be due to turmeric’s potent anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants which work to reduce inflammation as well as neutralize harmful free radicals.
Lots of us grab for cough medicines to treat a cough, but those come with a multitude of potential side effects, including some that are not so cool. It’s not just an anti-inflammatory, it has some strong antibacterial and antiviral qualities that can support healing from viral infections and coughs. It helps to relieve chest congestion that often develops in those who have chronic coughs by thinning phlegm. This is good news for those with COPD. While there is no cure for COPD, there is much that can be done to minimize the symptoms.
This is one of the best turmeric cough treatment recipes we’ve seen. The honey not only adds a touch of sweetness, but it also soothes the throat by coating it and acting as a cough suppressant.
Here’s another turmeric remedy we like from Natural Living Ideas:
• 2 cups water
• 1 teaspoon ginger root, grated
• 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
• 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
• 1 teaspoon raw, organic honey
• 1 lemon, juiced
1. Bring water to boiling in a large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add ginger, turmeric, and crushed peppercorns.
3. Bring mixture to a boil again until the mixture reduces by about half.
4. Strain it into a cup and add honey. Mix well and then drink hot. If serving to a small child (over 12 months of age), be sure that it’s not too hot, lukewarm is okay. You may also want to add a bit more honey and lemon to make it more palatable for little ones.
Turmeric is said to be one of the best natural antidepressants there is.
Even better than our go-to of St. John’s Wort/Kava/Passionflower tincture. Pharmaceuticals come with scary and sometimes very serious side effects that can even include suicide, studies have shown turmeric may be just as effective without the serious downside.
The active compound in turmeric known as curcumin can also help modulate neurotransmitters in the brain. The compounds found in turmeric are vital for proper brain function. When there is a low level of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, scientists say that depression can result.
Cooking with your homegrown turmeric can and may help lower some of the elements of depression. Plus, good food.
Curcumin has been shown to possess elements that can support the cardiovascular system and lower cholesterol. This compound is so incredibly dense in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, that hundreds of studies have found that it protects and improves the health of every organ in the body, including the heart.
Lots of people are talking about Golden Milk, too.
Oh, before I forget, of course you can purchase your turmeric start
s from any one of a bunch of vendors on Amazon, and you’ll probably do OK with that. There’s lots of good ones. I really like the turmeric I’ve gotten mail-order from this nursery. I have no idea how their customer service is because I’ve never needed to use it. They seem to get things right the first time.
Anyway … I’m back at it, and I’ll be sharing a lot of our gardening adventures this summer. There’s a lot going on here. Now that life, hopefully, has settled down to a dull roar, we can chat more often.
Now, get out there and grow something!