Cooking With Turmeric: The Do’s And Don’ts

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Turmeric is currently a trendy spice that has a long history of use in Southern Asia. It has become popular in the Western world in recent years because of its nutritional benefits. It contains a compound called curcumin that is known to have powerful antioxidant properties. As a result, a diet high in the nutrients from turmeric is thought to be beneficial for preventing a number of serious health conditions including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. This bright yellow-orange spice is one of the main ingredients in most curry powder blends and is great for adding color to dishes. Use the tips below to get the most from it.

Do use fresh turmeric whenever possible.

As with many spices, the fresh version is usually more flavorful in addition to being less processed and thus better for you.

Do use turmeric in moderation.

This is especially important if you have never used the spice before. Turmeric does not have a strong flavor even when used in significant amounts; however, the pigment component is highly concentrated. You can give dishes a bright yellow color by adding as little as 1/8 of a teaspoon.

Do use fresh turmeric in the same way that you would use ginger.

Turmeric and ginger actually belong to the same family and have a similar appearance and texture in their unprepared state, though they differ in flavor. The color of turmeric is another important difference; however, you can chop, grate or puree turmeric just as you would fresh ginger.

Do use more fresh turmeric when replacing dried, powdered turmeric in a recipe.

You will need to use more because the drying process concentrates the turmeric to a considerable degree. You will need to use three times more fresh turmeric than dried to compensate.

Do add black pepper to turmeric.

Black pepper contains a compound called piperine that is important for making the antioxidants in turmeric bioavailable so that you can benefit from them.

Do be careful when handling turmeric.

It is brightly colored and likely to stain everything from fabric to countertops. Turmeric was actually used as a dye for fabric by ancient civilizations.

Do store turmeric correctly.

Most spices will lose their flavor when exposed to air, light and heat. Turmeric is even more susceptible to this kind of degradation than most. Store turmeric in an airtight container that also protects the spice from light. Airtight tins are ideal. Place the container in a location far from heat sources. When stored under the right conditions, you can expect dried turmeric to last six months or longer.

Do use turmeric as an affordable saffron substitute.

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, while turmeric is relatively inexpensive. Both can provide a bright yellow color to dishes. The flavors are very different but neither spice is particularly pungent, so the flavor differences will be subtle.

Don’t add too much turmeric to your food.

While you can add a lot without negatively affecting the flavor of many dishes, an excessive amount can make a dish unattractive. Too much turmeric can give food a dark and muddy yellow color that many find unappetizing.

Don’t use turmeric on its own if you want a flavorful dish.

Its mild flavor means that it’s not going to make a big difference when it comes to enhancing or complementing the spices and other ingredients in your food.