What Is Turmeric and How Do I Use It?
Turmeric is maybe the most mysterious and yet most talked about spice of the millennium. You've no doubt seen it touted in your Golden Spice lattes or mentioned in your healthy salad dressings, but might have no idea where it comes from, how it tastes, or that in fact it's an incredibly versatile spice to have in your pantry.
Ready to get the scoop on turmeric and how to use it?
What is turmeric?
Turmeric has a remarkable color, for one: a bright, earthy, and saturated signature yellow. And while the taste—a nearly bitter, almost musky flavor with an undertone of spice—may be on the quiet side, the health benefits of this spice are not. With loads of antioxidants, turmeric is said to possess anti-inflammatory qualities, so it's a health standout.
Turmeric is a rhizome (aka root) and has a longstanding historical in traditional medical, religious, and fabric-dyeing practices. And as it's a key ingredient in cuisines around the world—particularly Southeast Asian cuisines—you can incorporate this powerful spice into everything from breakfasts to main courses and lattes to cocktails.
Let's start with the first part: The grocery shopping.
How to buy turmeric
Turmeric comes in both powdered and raw form.
Powdered, the most common form, is found at your regular grocery store in the spice aisle, though of course South Asian, Indian, and specialty spice shops are an option (and may have fresher stock). Color will vary, but the aroma should be mildly fragrant.
Turn to dried turmeric to add instant color and intriguing earthiness to hearty soups, frothy lattes, meat rubs, and tofu scrambles (the color makes a big difference). Store it in an airtight container in a cool and dry spot in your kitchen.
Related—40+ Hearty Turmeric Recipes
Raw turmeric looks similar to fresh knobs of ginger (they're both roots, after all) and when peeled away it shows off a bright orange flesh. Shop for it in Whole Foods or at South Asian and Indian groceries and keep your eyes peeled for firm roots (no soft or shriveled specimen).
Slicing and dicing goes the same as it would for ginger: Peel it then finely slice, grate, or mince it. You can store fresh turmeric in the refrigerator in an airtight container or bag for a week or so for use in smoothies, juices, and stocks—anything where a fresher, more citrus-leaning flavor is what you desire.
How to cook with turmeric
As you'll remember, the taste of turmeric is deep, earthy, and a touch peppery—and it's important to note that a little goes a long way.
The eye-catching marigold shade of turmeric adds a lovely color to lattes, tonics, and baked goods; we're partial to this one-two punch of Turmeric Banana Bread and Golden Turmeric Butter. And you have to mention turmeric's prowess as a part of delicious beverages (hello Golden Milk, and Turmeric Chai Latte recipes).
Recipes to try that use turmeric
Keep the healthy and vibrant cooking going with more delicious recipes with turmeric: