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plant for the month of August
(Submitted by Karin Westdyk)
Turmeric is a perennial herb in the ginger family and is most commonly known in Belize as yellow ginger. It has large, oblong leaves, light yellow flowers, and an underground rhizome that can be planted year-round in Belize, but emerges in the rainy season and remains dormant during the dry.
For nearly 5000 years turmeric has been used for food, as a spice for flavoring food, as a yellow dye and as a medicine for treating many ailments.
Though turmeric is mostly used for its edible rhizomes, its leaves and flowers can also be consumed in curries or in pickling.
Making turmeric powder
- Before drying and turning into a powder, wash the rhizomes and cure them by boiling them until they are soft.
- After cooling, cut into smaller chunks and dry in low heat oven (about 200 degrees) for approximately 2-3 hours.
- Put through food processor, blender, or grinder and strain out powder. Larger chunks left in strainer can go through milling process again until powdered.
- Store in air tight jar in dark place and it will keep for at least a year.
Golden milk, also known as turmeric milk has gained popularity as it is well known as an immune system booster.
To make golden milk, simply warm milk (cow, goat, almond, soy, hemp) adding turmeric, with a bit of cinnamon and ginger to taste.
Medicinal and Therapuetic Properties
Medicinally, turmeric has been used:
- for its antioxident properties
- as an anti-inflammatory and for joint pain
- to improve memory and brain function
- to reduce depression
- to lower risk of heart disease
- to lower blood sugar
- for its anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties
- to improve digestion
More on Turmeric..................................................................................................................................
From Christopher Nesbitt of Maya Mountain Research Farm · Curcuma longa, Zingiberaceae ANTI EROSION/MEDICINAL/MARKETABLE/SPICE/SUB CANOPY Turmeric is a medicinal spice, originally from souther Asia, it has long been cultivated in India. There are many species that are called “turmeric”, with India having up to 40 different species of Curcuma. These species can be found across from Tahitia, to Australia, to Maqdagascar to southern China. In Polynesia and Micronesia, where it is believed no contact occurred with India, it has been traditionally used for millenia. In all of these countries it is used to die clothes, as well as for its culinary and medicinal attributes.
The main species, and the one grown in Belize, is Curcuma longa. Introduced to Toledo during the 1870s by the arrival of East Indians, turmeric does exceptionally well in southern Belize.
Turmeric is a perennial herbaceous plant in the Zingiberaceae family, the same family as ginger, that grows about three feet tall. The marketable part is the rhizome, or root, which is generally yellow to orange.
In Belize, it is usually referred to as “yellow ginger”. It grows in the wild in the forests of India, and does well as a ground level component in a multistrata agroforestry system.
In a monoculture, turmeric can produce 8-15 tonnes per acre, per year. For our purposes, we will get less. Turmeric is an excellent sub canopy species in a multistrata agroforestry system. It tolerates shade well, though production may go into decline if shade exceeds 70%. It grows well in the rainy season and then dies back in the dry season. During the dry season the rhizomes have their highest amount of medicinal and flavour properties and that is when the main harvest occurs.
Turmeric can be used as a botanical barrier when planted on contour when the agroforestry system is in the first few years of production. The plant growth above ground creates a barrier to soil and leaf litter from washing down hill, accumulating above and in the plant growth. This helps to feed nutrients to the turmeric. In the dry season it dies back. It is also useful to improve soil structure and break soil up as rhizomes grow, and in harvesting.
Turmeric is used in many ways. In India, it is used as a medicinal plant in ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is used as an anti-inflammatory, to treat and prevent cancer, to prevent Alzheimers, reduce the risk of heart disease, treat the symptoms of arthritis and can reduce the effects of depression. If used for medicinal purposes, it should be combined with black pepper which has the alkaloid piperine, which can boost the bodies ability to absorb the polyphenol curcumin, one of the important medicinal elements in turmeric.
The leaves above ground can be used in tamale making if no waha or plantain leaf is available. It is most commonly used as a flavouring in food, especially curries, and to cook traditional Indian rices. Along with annatto, it is often used as a colouring for food such as cheeses,
margarine, yogurt and salad dressings. The flower is edible, though under utilized.
While not invasive, turmeric is persistent. Harvesting rhizomes will almost invariably leave rhizomes and they will grow back the next rainy season.