General Description

Turmeric comes from the root of Curcuma longa, a leafy plant in the ginger family. The root, or rhizome, has a tough brown skin and bright orange flesh. Ground Turmeric comes from fingers which extend from the root. It is boiled or steamed and then dried, and ground.

Geographical Sources

India is the world's primary producer of Turmeric. It is also grown in Vietnam and India.

Traditional Ethnic Uses

Turmeric is a necessary ingredient of curry powder. It is used extensively in Indian dishes, including lentil and meat dishes, and in Southeast Asian cooking. Turmeric is routinely added to mustard blends and relishes. It also is used in place of saffron to provide color and flavor.

Taste and Aroma Description

Turmeric is mildly aromatic and has scents of orange or ginger. It has a pungent, bitter flavor.

History/Region of Origin

Turmeric, with its brilliant yellow color, has been used as a dye, medicine, and flavoring since 600 BC. In 1280, Marco Polo described Turmeric as "a vegetable with the properties of saffron, yet it is not really saffron." Indonesians used Turmeric to dye their bodies as part of their wedding ritual. Turmeric has been used medicinally throughout Asia to treat stomach and liver ailments. It also was used externally, to heal sores, and as a cosmetic.

Storage Tips

Store in cool, dark, dry places.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started

Because of its bitter taste, Turmeric should not be used as a flavor substitute for saffron. A Turmeric stain can be washed out with soap and water if treated quickly. Use Turmeric to add Eastern mystery to new favorites as well as in traditional curries, rice and chicken dishes, and condiments. Turmeric is a classic addition to chutneys, pickles, and relishes. Add a pinch of Turmeric to fish soups. Blend with melted butter and drizzle over cooked vegetables, pasta, or potatoes.