For most people, ‘hot’ and ‘humid’ when combined are the very worst type of weather condition. Steamy, close (and gross!), moist climates usually mean you need to take a shower directly after you’ve taken a shower, and the only outfit that provides any degree of comfort is your birthday suit. This type of environment may be a sweaty hell for many a city-slicking delicate (including this writer), but for turmeric it’s the perfect situation to grow and thrive.
Ideally, turmeric needs temperatures of 68 – 86 °F and bountiful water supplies to flourish, so it’s no surprise that Southwest India—with its Indiana Jones-type jungles, nourished by tropical monsoon downpours and soaring heat—is exactly where turmeric can be found. And this is precisely where we source our naturally grown, GMO-free turmeric and of course, the curcumin that it contains.
It is the curcumin within a turmeric rhizome that —when boiled and dried before being ground into a powder —gives a mild, peppery flavor. Turmeric has long been used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine to not only add that extra zip and zing to curries, but also for its ability to preserve food for longer periods of time.
If you’ve ever smelled a turmeric rhizome (and who doesn’t sniff rhizomes?), you’ll have noticed its earthy gingery scent, and that’s because turmeric is actually part of the 1300-plant-strong ginger family. Reunions must be a nightmare. In medieval Europe, turmeric was known as Indian saffron, and became relied upon as a much cheaper culinary ingredient to the more luxurious saffron spice. It was basically the sparkling wine/champagne trade-off of its day.
Want to know more about the origins of Turmeric? Check out part II.