Looking a bit like ginger (its close relative) but with bright orange flesh, fresh turmeric is in fact the underground rhizomes of the Curcuma longa plant.
The difference in taste between fresh turmeric and the dried, ground version is similar to that between fresh and ground ginger. Fresh turmeric has a subtle likeness to ginger, but with an underlying earthiness or bitterness, and citrus notes.
It is very versatile and, as well as adding a subtle flavour to dishes, it provides an appealing yellowy hue.
Now more readily available, fresh turmeric is usually sold in the vegetable aisle of the supermarket, or in Asian stores, with the fresh herbs, ginger and garlic.
Choose smooth, firm roots and store in the fridge, unpeeled, in a zip-lock bag, for up to three weeks. When ready to use, cut off both ends and peel gently. Hold turmeric vertically and slice thinly using a sharp knife, or grate it.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, although we can’t say what amounts will provide health benefits as studies have generally used high amounts of turmeric (or curcumin extracted from turmeric).
- Smoothies: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh turmeric, or 1/2 teaspoon ground.
- Rice/couscous: Mix 1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric, or 1/2—1 teaspoon ground, to colour cooking water.
- Soups and curries: Add 2 tablespoons grated fresh turmeric, or 1 1/2—2 teaspoons ground.
- Add grated fresh turmeric to mashed potatoes, or to salads and marinades.
- Use as a substitute for mustard or saffron for colour.
Tip: Wear gloves when preparing turmeric to avoid staining your hands.