Pensacola, FL’s climate this year was agreeable with our turmeric plants. They grew so much that the pots were misshaped as the rhizomes forced their way horizontally, splitting some plastic pots. As colder weather approached, the leaves died back and it was time to harvest some of the rhizomes and repot others. It didn’t take long to fill our harvest basket as we worked the soil loose and broke off pieces of rhizomes. Many of our readers have wondered what to do with turmeric rhizomes? You can simply wash and store them, using thin slices in cooking or process them to make turmeric powder. Here’s a step by step guide to making turmeric powder.
Note: turmeric has a strong yellow color and everything it touches will become yellow, but the final results are worth the trouble.
The first step is to wash rhizomes to remove dirt caught in between the “fingers”. Often this will mean breaking them apart. Then cover them with water and boil for 45 minutes to remove the starch and soften them. Make thin slices and spread on drying pans or dehydrator trays. If you are using an oven, heat to lowest temperature and dry for 2-3 hours, until slices are crispy. If you are using a dehydrator, set temperature at 105ºF and run overnight. Place dried slices into bullet, food processor or other food grinder and process. Sift powder from debris and grind remainder again to get it all powdered
Store dried turmeric in spice jars, tightly sealed, in cool dark cupboard, out of direct sunlight. Ground turmeric is good for 2-3 years according to the McCormick Spice Company. If you want to store fresh turmeric rhizomes, place them in dry paper towel inside an open plastic bag. They will keep for 1-2 weeks. Cut off any moldy spots that develop and change the paper. They can also be frozen if sealed tightly to prevent desiccation. Slice into cooking pot from frozen state.
Billie Nicholson, Editor