Garden Grown: Preserving Turmeric for Year-Round Use

Turmeric Powder and Fresh Roots

Our rhizomes where overlooked until we realized they were turmeric. Similar to our Noni story, we had not paid attention to this garden healer and were about to ask our laborer to pull the all out of the earth. Every time I think of the possible mistake I was going to make – again – because I was moving too fast, the beautiful turmeric plant serves as a reminder to slow down, to get in communion with my plant allies.

Ayur means “life,” and veda means “science or knowledge. Ayurvedic literature contains over 100 different terms for turmeric.

Flowering turmeric. After 3 years of growing and harvesting, this is our first blossom.

Turmeric or Curcuma longa is a flowering plant belonging to the ginger family. The roots called rhizomes, have been used for cooking and medicinally for thousands of years. Curcumin is the bright-yellow chemical produced by the turmeric plant; turmeric rhizomes contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities making turmeric a healing ally. The turmeric root is used fresh or boiled and/or dried and ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a coloring and flavoring agent in foods or for dyeing fabrics. It is rumored that Turmeric paste was applied to all sorts of skin conditions –including smallpox, chicken pox, blemishes and shingles and used to treat depression in olden days.

Picking turmeric. We grow them in containers and they seem to love it!

In India the turmeric plant is used as a treatment in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural healing. Ayurveda translates to “science of life”– Ayur meaning “life” and veda meaning “science or knowledge; Ayurvedic literature contains over 100 different terms for turmeric, including jayanti, meaning “one who is victorious over diseases,” and matrimanika, meaning “as beautiful as moonlight.”

Some Medicinal Uses of Turmeric:

  • Protects the liver from toxins
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reduces joint swelling
  • Improves protein digestion
  • Inhaling fumes from burning turmeric was said to alleviate congestion
  • Turmeric juice aids the healing of wounds and bruises
  • Turmeric paste is said to treat skin conditions
  • Offers a broad spectrum of benefits for physical maladies

How to Farm Turmeric with Your Fork:

Unearthed turmeric bundle.
Washing turmeric roots.
De-rooting turmeric.
Straining the turmeric roots after a quick boil cleans them and kills pathogens.
Clean and sterilized turmeric is ready for drying.
Dried turmeric is ready to store in jars and used in soups, beans and stews, especially.
Turmeric roots grounded into a powder.

Our turmeric preservation project is part of a library of my musings, news stories, and gardening tips about the Five Steps to Farming with Your Fork. It’s my way to share with you tangible actions toward inspired sustainability adoptable for home practice.

Turmeric babies to be replanted. We only harvest the biggest roots.

8 Comments

  1. loved this one particularly
    now I am going to grow some turmeric next to the ginger
    thanks so much for all ute amazing work and sweet strong spirit

    1. Turmeric is amazing. After writing this – i hang out a little longer with the plants 🙂

  2. Love this, D. Those are gorgeous blooms. Does turmeric like water? I’ve never had success with ginger even. So curious now.

    1. Thank You! The blooms where a great gift. And YES – Turmeric loves water. I’ve placed our turmeric plants near our dog/cat water bowls because I’m reminded to water pets and plants.

  3. This was super helpful- I wasn’t sure how to store my turmeric harvest from a couple months past- now I know to prevent the bounty from simply becoming compost! I had a great harvest after you advised me of their love of water- we were having a particularly WET season here and they just loved it while other plants melted away. Here in Hawaii this lovely plant is called ‘Olena 🙂

    1. Thank You and I love the name ‘Olena. Please keep us posted on your turmeric adventures 🙂

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