You’ve probably heard all about this gnarly orange stem (from latte and milk to curries and even tea), but did you know it had magical health properties? We’ll explain why fresh turmeric is good for you and how to cook with it at home.
Whilst fresh turmeric looks like it’s been unearthed from the soil of another planet, its healing powers and flavour-packed uses are truly out of this world. Here’s why it’s time to get acquainted with the vibrant and versatile root, enjoy its endless health benefits, and why there’s much, much more to it than curry.
Why fresh turmeric is good for you?
Fresh turmeric is a bright orange root-like subterranean stem (aka a rhizome) famous for powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. A member of the ginger family, it has been used in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines for centuries to heal wounds, treat skin conditions, inflammations and infections.
Also known as Indian saffron, jiang huang, haridra or haldi, in its powdered form it’s often tucked away in the spice cupboard and brought out when curries call for a distinctive shot of yellow colouring. The main active ingredient is curcumin and research has shown low rates of certain types of cancer in countries where people eat curcumin over long periods of time.
In the same way that its relation fresh ginger is different from dried ginger, so too is fresh turmeric. Dried turmeric is made by peeling, boiling, drying and grinding the rhizomes – losing some of its essential oils and punch but still providing warmth and colour.
How do I prepare fresh turmeric?
How to prepare fresh turmeric: peel it, grate it, slice it.
To prepare fresh turmeric, grab a vegetable peeler or paring knife and slice off its skin. You can also do this by rubbing the stem down with the back with a spoon. Once you’ve uncovered its colourful, earthy and heady hint of tongue-numbing insides, it’s ready to use as you desire – try it finely sliced or grated (it’s less fibrous than ginger and easier to grate).
Word of warning though – its incredible colour is a natural dye and stains surfaces and hands alike. Handle with care or get your marigolds on if you want to avoid the dye (you can use lemon juice to help remove stains). When it comes to knowing how much to use, a rough guide is: one inch of fresh turmeric = one tablespoon freshly of grated turmeric = one teaspoon of ground turmeric.
What can I do with fresh turmeric?
Now you know why fresh turmeric is good for you, you need to know how to eat (or drink) it. Here are 8 simple and tasty ways to enjoy the delightful zing of this detoxifying stem:
1. Have a caffeine-free pep with turmeric tea
Keep that cold at bay with a glass of turmeric tea.
Add one inch of peeled and grated fresh turmeric with the juice of quarter of a lemon with a pinch of ground black pepper (the chemical piperine in black pepper helps with the absorption of curcumin in turmeric) and 300ml of hot water. If you’d like even more of a zing, add half an inch of peeled and sliced or grated fresh ginger too. Enjoy straightaway and adjust the quantities to your liking. Check out our recipe too.
2. Blend in a smoothie
You can add into your favourite juices and smoothies like you would ginger. Include with fellow orange-fleshed carrot in a juice with oranges or try added into your super-green morning smoothie.
3. Add punch to your eggs
Turmeric goes down a treat in egg dishes. Grate a little of the fresh stuff into your scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas for a new take on your egg-pertoire. Also try it finely grated then added to whisked eggs to make an egg wash for pastry on samosas or pies that’ll give you an amazing golden yellow colour to the top! (As tested by our Social Media Manager, Beth.)
4. Shake up your salads with a stick up
Very thinly slice fresh turmeric into matchsticks and add a little to liven up a cabbage and carrot coleslaw, fresh leafy green salads or the humble potato salad.
5. Blend in a yoghurt dressing
Take 1 inch of peeled and grated fresh turmeric and blend with 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, 1 tsp of runny honey and 50 ml of yoghurt. Add water a tablespoon at a time until get your desired consistency (we like it looser than yoghurt, but runny enough to drizzle). Enjoy drizzled over roasted vegetables and with pinch of ground chilli sprinkled over for an extra kick.
6. Pickle it up
Slice 250g of fresh peeled turmeric into chunky matchsticks and add the juice of 3 lemons and 1 tsp of salt. Put into a jar with a lid and keep in the fridge for at least 4 days to allow the flavour to develop, shaking it occasionally. Add slices of green chillies or a 1 tsp of mustard and/or fennel seeds if you’d like more layers of spice and heat and use within a month.
7. Maximise your marinades
Combine with your usual marinade suspects of olive oil, garlic, black pepper and fresh herbs such as coriander, parsley or mint. Try out our Turmeric Cauliflower Steaks recipe for a wonderful South Indian inspired supper.
8. Settle down to a cup of hot golden milk
Throw 1 inch of peeled and grated fresh turmeric into a medium-sized saucepan with 300ml of milk (whether cow’s, oat, or almond milk, use whichever you prefer). Heat until warmed through but don’t allow to boil. Strain and add honey to taste. Thanks to @avnitouch on Instagram for your granny’s recommendation on its cough and cold-fighting properties!
How to store fresh turmeric:
Wrap in a paper towel and store in the fridge inside a tupperware or airtight bag where it will keep for a couple of weeks. Don’t intend on using it all at once? It can be happily stored in your freezer.
How long does fresh turmeric last?
Fresh turmeric will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. When frozen, it’ll last for up to six months.