2 days ago I received a panic email from a reader asking how to make turmeric powder from fresh rhizomes.
I have never done this myself so had to research and ask my mom about it.
I now realize I should have written about it earlier as it’s such an important part of taking turmeric.
Better late than never. So here it is ——
There is nothing like growing your own turmeric and using it.
Growing your own turmeric not only ensures that you are getting non-adulterated one to use but also it is economical and one does not have to be frustrated in deciding what powder / supplement to buy from the market.
But there are some challenges ahead.
Fresh turmeric cannot be stored for long and thus needs to be either consumed or converted into powder turmeric for consumption later. I will discuss both options here.
Using fresh turmeric as it is
Fresh turmeric is just awesome to have. It is because some of the essential oils of turmeric get lost in the process of making it into powder.
There are so many awesome ways to use fresh turmeric, I will not elaborate on them but just list them down:
In smoothies / juices – just grate fresh turmeric and then put it your juicer along with everything else. It’s simple!
In curries – one can add finely grated turmeric in curries or as final dressing. I have seen several recipes where they cut thin and short turmeric sticks and use them as whole. Some people also make a paste of fresh turmeric and add it to curries etc.
As pickle – Turmeric Pickle is very popular in India. The benefit of pickle is it has a long shelf life and still gives you the taste of fresh turmeric. I will add its recipe soon in the recipe section.
As salad – This is great way and it is popular in many parts of India when fresh turmeric is available in the market. I just chop small and thin sticks of turmeric and then add them with any salad I eat. It tastes awesome with some lemon spread over it. Try it!
Using fresh turmeric is a different experience altogether. It tastes fantastic. My favorite ways are having it as pickle or in salad (with lemon over it). Its mouth watering 🙂
Drying fresh turmeric to make powder
But however hard you try, fresh turmeric cannot beat the shelf life and overall utility of powdered turmeric. So, it is best that you may keep some fresh turmeric for usage but convert a major portion to powder.
Before I go ahead and talk about how to make powder. Just a word of caution for turmeric growers, please make sure you start the process of taking the turmeric plant out between 7-10 months of age. A great indication of when to do is when its leaves and stem start to dry out. Please do not take a hasty decision to uproot the plant.
Back to turmeric powder.
Making turmeric powder is not hard at all. Here are its steps:
The turmeric root is washed thoroughly. Also make sure to remove leaves and any long roots. Now you will see a “bulb” and “fingers”. Basically bulb is the mother while fingers are the branches shooting out of it.
In large scale productions, these are processed separately, but while making powder at home, it will not matter much.
Put these in a pan, cover them with leaves (traditional method) and keep them for a day. You may skip this one if you are running against time.
Turmeric rhizomes cannot be dried just like that. They are boiled first.
There are several reasons for this:
- It softens the roots, thus drying process takes place faster. This happens as the starch within is gelatinized and thus dries faster.
- It also removes the raw odor from turmeric, this is why raw turmeric tastes different from powdered one.
- Another important aspect (mainly from commercial point of view) is boiling ensures a uniform color for the powdered turmeric
- From a health stand point, boiling will kill any harmful germs / bacterial present in soil which can then get into the powder.
How long to boil is the key aspect for this step. The time varies from place to place (basically saying it is based on turmeric type, which in turn is based on where it is grown).
According to The Indian Institute of Spice Research and the Agricultural Research Centre, the ideal boiling time is around 45 min. You will see froth appearing at the surface by that time. Also you can smell turmeric aroma too.
Please note, if you over boil, your powder will look decolorized. If you under boil then the rhizomes will become brittle.
Tip : Touch the rhizomes and if they fell soft then they are optimally boiled. Another way is to try piercing them using a piece of wood. If it does, they are okay for next stage.
You need to start curing the rhizomes within 2-3 days you harvest, else they will start getting stale.
The drying process starts with slicing the rhizomes into small pieces. This basically increases its surface area for drying.
Ideal moisture content in final dried product should be around 5-10%. If you are drying under the sun then it is achieved in 10-15 days. Depending on climate and temperature.
Tip: Do not keep the rhizomes under direct sunlight, it leads to fading of their natural color. Then your turmeric will not “look like turmeric anymore.
Tip: Make sure you cut small vertical slices to maximize surface area. Lay them in single layer while drying.
What to do if you do not have enough sunlight?
In commercial set-up mechanical dryers are used to do the work in such situations. At home, baking using microwave oven can help.
Commercial dryer work at around 60 degree Celsius.
I have not tried this myself so I cannot comment upon how much time it would take but a small batch may take upto 1.5-2 hrs to dry in oven.
Help!! — If you have used microwave, please do share what time worked for you.
This is the last step and an easy one. Just make sure the rhizomes are dry enough so as to enable grinding.
You can use a simple grinder to do the job. After grinding please pass the grinded product through a strainer and grind again the large particles.
The process may take several iterations.
That’s it. Your home grown turmeric powder is ready! Keep it in a tight packed jar and enjoy its benefits.
Hope this article was useful, in case of any questions, please write to me or just comment.