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Ingredient

Turmeric

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What is it?

Turmeric is a relative of ginger. Both the rhizome and the leaves of the turmeric plant are edible, but it’s the rhizome that’s most widely used. The small, knobby rhizome looks like a cross between a knob of ginger and a carrot, and it tastes that way too. It’s slightly bitter and metallic in flavor and ranges in color from sunny yellow to a saturated, Technicolor orange.

In Vietnam, turmeric is paired with fish or used in savory crêpe batter. In India, it’s a component of curries. Turmeric is also used as a natural food coloring (sometimes as a stand-in for pricey saffron) and is employed in ayurvedic medicine as an antiseptic.

How to choose:

Fresh turmeric is relatively hard to come by in this country, though you might get lucky at Asian or Indian markets or especially well-stocked health food stores.

Dried, ground turmeric is easy to find in the spice aisle of the supermarket, but we recommend looking for it at a Vietnamese or Indian grocer. There, you’ll get more for your money and are likely to find a fresher product.

How to prep:

Prepare fresh turmeric as you would fresh ginger: peeled and minced or grated.

How to store:

Fresh turmeric will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least two weeks.

Like any dried spice, ground turmeric should be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place, where it should last six months to a year.

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