Sunday, 11 June 2017

Our turmeric crop is now harvested, dried and ground up into a gut friendly spice





Turmeric is a yellowy-orange spice used frequently in South Asian cooking, just in case you haven't heard. However, I doubt that very much as Turmeric has become very big news because of the health claims being made about it. The particular compound in turmeric that is now considered beneficial to us is curcumin, and evidence seems to be mounting that it is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. However, it's not that simple, as whilst it does our gut a lot of good, particularly the walls of our intestine, we are told that  the gut will only absorb the necessary amounts it needs if we add pepper at the same time, and perhaps a touch of chilli.

So I am persisting with trying to include it in  our diet as much as possible because of the the health benefits that scientists and doctors such as Dr. Michael Mosley now agree that it contains. Curried cauliflower soup and chicken tikka masala flavoured and coloured with turmeric are on the menu this coming  week along with a Turmeric Latte (recipe below). This morning I sprinkled turmeric on our omelette along with some ground pepper and a touch of chilli powder and the flavour was very subtle. I found that tip in the book  that I just bought called "The clever guts diet" by Dr Michael Mosley, and I am finding it fascinating reading. I suggest that you watch last week's Insight program on SBS, featuring Dr. Michael Mosley if you didn't see it. Our gut is an incredibly interesting part of our body with a lot of power over our health and well-being, but just not very sexy.

Omelette for breakfast lightly sprinkled with turmeric, black pepper , and chilli powder.

Dehydrating our Turmeric

We have had a lot of turmeric growing since the beginning of last summer, and whilst all of the leaves hadn't browned off and started to look as if they were dying, which is generally the signal to dig up the turmeric bulbs, Neil dug it all up as we wanted to use the garden to plant some seedlings. Even though it is earlier in the year than we usually do this, the turmeric looked ready and has dried into a beautiful rich golden colour, with a much stronger aroma than the turmeric I  had purchased from the supermarket.

Neil washed it all in a bucket in the laundry sink and because it is young and fresh a lot of the skin came away with the dirt, leaving it ready for dehydrating quite easily. It then needed to be sliced.



Rather than using a mandolin or slicing it by hand, we found that slicing it in the food processor worked very well.






However we realised we had a lot of it and that it would take days to dry it all in the dehydrator, which my friend Julie from Trogical Cooks had leant me. Thanks so much Julie, there's some turmeric coming your way. So as the weather was very sunny and dry we tried drying some out in the full sun as well. This worked to a certain extent, however I ended up finishing that batch by drying it on trays in my oven on a very low heat until it was dry enough to grind up in our spice grinder. Drying the turmeric slices in the dehydrator is still my preferred method but for large quantities finishing some of it in the oven produced similar results.

Turmeric drying out in the tropical sun 

This is what our turmeric looked like after it had been dehydrated. Neil bought a spice grinder so that we can dry and grind our own herbs and spices and that has been really useful. Our coffee grinder is used just for coffee. 

Below is the finished product and I am really excited about how aromatic this turmeric powder is, and also the depth of colour it has. I've been to the Spice Markets in Istanbul and I'm sure ours looks just as good, ha, ha.We also know it is completely organic without any nasty additives thrown in to extend it's shelf life.



This process takes time depending on how much turmeric you have, but it only took a day to dry three layers of turmeric in the dehydrator and then it could be ground up straight away and bottled for storage. I keep it in my dark pantry cupboard away from the light.

Try a Turmeric Latte to combat the Winter chills

 (this recipe is based on one from Dr. Mosley's book, The Clever Guts diet, mentioned above)

Ingredients:
1 cm root ginger (or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger)
1 tsp ground turmeric or fresh if you are game (a 2cm root grated)
300ml almond or coconut milk (from a carton not a tin)
The Seeds of 2 cardamon pods
1 tsp of local honey (There is a belief that using local honey provides better antihistamine benefits)
2 tsp coconut oil
1 pinch of ground cinnamon

Peel and grate the fresh ginger. Heat the nut milk gently in a small pan, then add the cardamon seeds, honey and coconut oil, whisking constantly so that the milk heats through and is foamy. Pour the mixture into a cup and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Relax and enjoy your drink.
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If I run out of the turmeric powder in the future, and don't have any fresh stuff growing, I won't hesitate now to buy some fresh turmeric from the markets, there is always plenty at this time of year, and dry it and grind it up myself. The results are well worth it.

I also read recently where  soapmakers at home are using it to naturally colour their soaps yellow and orange.

Testing on the beneficial aspects of turmeric is continuing and now there are also indications that it could improve depression, asthma and eczema in certain types of people. That is very exciting.

Do you like the taste of turmeric, and do you have any interesting  ways of introducing it into your diet?

Thanks for visiting and I hope your week goes well.

Best wishes

Pauline

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