Turmeric is a flowering plant, part of the ginger family, the roots of which are used for medicinal purposes and cooking. It is a perennial plant, meaning it grows all year round. This yellow root is native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia; it is therefore not surprising that to grow and thrive it requires temperatures of between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, as well as a considerable amount of rainfall.
For common use, the rootstocks of turmeric are collected fresh; once collected they can be used or boiled and dried. When they are dried they assume that famous dark yellow-orange color.
This root is used in many Asian cuisines, especially curries, and for coloring and dyeing. The coloring is possible because of the curcumin, turmeric’s principal constituent.
The World Health Organisation, European Parliament, and the Food and Drug Administration have all added curcumin to their list of approved food additives.
Although there is no high-quality clinical evidence that turmeric and curcumin can treat any disease, these have been used for a very long time in Ayurvedic medicine.
In 2019 though, the European Medicines Agency, at the end of some studies concluded that turmeric herbal teas could be used to relieve mild digestive problems, such as flatulence or feeling of fullness.
Phytochemistry and nutrition of Turmeric
Turmeric powder’s composition:
- 60-70% Carbohydrates
- 6-13% Water
- 6-8% Protein
- 5-10% Fat
- 3-7% Dietary Minerals
- 3-7% Essential Oils (about 34 different types)
- 2-7% Dietary Fiber
- 1-6% Curcuminoids
Cooking with turmeric
As mentioned before, this root is one of the key ingredients in many Asian cuisines; it imparts a mustardy, earthy aroma with a pungent, slightly bitter taste to food. It is included in both sweet and savory dishes but remember to use it with caution, as it has a very strong presence.
Turmeric or Curcuma paper is paper that has been colored with a tincture of turmeric and then dried; this is then used in chemical analysis to determine the alkalinity or acidity of a solution. When dipped in acidic or neutral solutions, this paper remains yellow, while it turns red/brown in alkaline ones.
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