Curcuma longa (simply called curcuma or turmeric saffron or indie) is a herbaceous, perennial, rhizomatic plant of the Zingiberaceae family originally from South East Asia and widely used as spice in the areas of origin and especially in Indian cuisine , Middle East, Thai and other areas of Asia.
From a systematic point of view, the Curcuma longa belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Kingdom Plantae, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Liliopsida Class, the Zingiberales Order, the Zingiberaceae Family and then the Genera Curcuma and the Species C. longa.
The name turmeric comes from Sanskrit kunkuma passing through the Arabic كركم, kurkum.
It is fair to know that when it comes to turmeric it is normally understood Curcuma longa, although there are many other species attributed to the botanical genus Curcuma. In English it is called ordinarily turmeric (hence the name, little in use, of curcuma). In Hindi it is called Haldi, in Bengali holud. Finally, the name of the Indie saffron comes from the color of the spice, which reminds the saffron very much.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Curcuma longa is spontaneous in South Asia, India to Malaysia, in tropical climate regions, with temperatures typically between 20 ° C and 35 ° C and with high rainfall.
The turmeric grows on the edge of the forest, or on the banks of the rivers, and adapts to droughty environments. He loses his leaves and survives in the dry season underneath the underground rhizomes. Some species of Curcuma also produce tuberous roots, which act as a further store of food and water.
Curcuma longa is present, in the cultivated state, in many tropical or subtropical areas, particularly in Asia and Africa.
Curcuma longa is a perennial herb that can reach a maximum height of about one meter. It has large leaves, up to 20-45 cm long, with elongated petiole.
The flowers are collected in a vivid pseudo-inflorescence rich in large green brattees in the lower and white or purple tops. The green brathees form a series of pockets, which house large yellow flowers (with possible orange shades). As for the root, this is a large cylindrical, branched, yellow or orange rhizome, strongly aromatic, which is the part of the plant’s most commercial interest.
As with most of the plants used over time in agriculture, varieties of this species have been developed over time.
The turmeric, which we know as a spice, is derived from the tuberous root of this plant. The root is powdered, and here’s the famous natural remedy and food ingredient we all know.
To start reproducing the curcuma we have to start looking for fresh curcuma roots in organic food stores. Try also to apply the turmeric to be cultivated in nurseries that are devoted to plant care naturally. Alternatively you can go looking for a turnip plant, sold as ornamental for the beauty of its flowers. In the best nursery you can find turmeric as a rhizome or as a plant.
As for the climate, the ideal one for turmeric growth must be aware that this can be cultivated, with some good success only in a region with very mild winters and no danger of frost. For this reason, especially in the southern Italian islands and in their coastal areas, and in particular microclimate, turmeric can find suitable and interesting conditions for cultivation. Turmeric lives well in its natural habitat, so in India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Vietnam, for example. But for personal use you can try to grow it in a pot so you can move it to sheltered places as soon as you lower the temperatures.
In fact, when the temperature falls below 12 ° C the turmeric suffers. Ideal temperatures for turmeric are between 20 and 35 ° C. Take good note of choosing where to place your turmeric plant and consider that its ideal climate is hot-humid. So during spring and summer, when the plant will produce new leaves and flowers, frequent watering will be required.
You can plant turmeric rye throughout the year, but the best time is spring, so the plant faces all the good weather to grow. As winter approaches, you will notice that the curcuma flowers will disappear and the leaves will dry. This is a completely natural process in the curcuma life cycle.
For the collection of turmeric you have to wait for the time it will dry. So in winter and before the beginning of spring and the formation of new sprouts, you will be able to pick up your turmeric. The turmeric rhizome on the outside resembles the ginger root, but inside it has a much brighter, yellowish orange color.
For conservation, it is necessary to collect the turmeric root and let it dry in a dry and ventilated place for about a month. Then you can reduce it with a powerful kitchen robot. The turmeric powder is stored for long in closed glass jars, which are sheltered from light and heat sources, an arrangement that must always be followed for all spices, so that they retain their properties at best.
As far as the plant protection aspect is concerned, the turnip plant is usually not infested with parasites and insects, so you can grow turmeric in a completely natural way. A real benefit to having a healthy food available and enjoying all its beneficial properties. Curcuma needs a rich soil. When you turn your turnip plant (according to its growth) it is advisable to add some compost to the soil, as is commonly done with other potted plants. Sprinkle the turmeric often (when the soil is dry again), but never leave water in the subwoofer to prevent the roots from rotating. The same arrangements, but adapted to the cultivation in the field, should be taken on farms.
Uses and Traditions –
India is the world’s first curcuma producer. In 2008/2009, almost 200,000 hectares of turkey were cultivated in Turkey, with a production of about 900,000 T. Some Indian cities, such as Sangli, Maharashtra, or Herod, in Tamil Nadu, contend for the title of highest centers Of world production; However, the Spices Board statistics show the state of Andhra Pradesh as the largest producer in central and eastern India.
The main constituents of the drug are curcuminoids (3-5%), ie mixtures of cinnamoylmethane derivatives, such as curcumin, curcuminous demetosis and bis-demethoxycycurine (which is contained only in C. longa). Quantitatively important (3-5%) is the volatile fraction, which mainly contains typical terpenic compounds such as zingiberene, curcumole and β-turmerone. They are present in the drug, but in smaller quantities, even the acidic galactic arabic abolishes A, up to ukonano D.
The saffron name of the Indies refers to the yellow, true and unique resemblance between turmeric and saffron: from turmeric yellow rhizome you get turmeric powder, a spice very used in Indian and Asian gastronomy in general, and a yellow substance Used in dyeing.
The rhizomes are boiled and dried in the sun or in the oven, and then crushed in a yellow-orange powder. Its active ingredient is curcumin that has a terrestrial, bitter, spicy and extremely volatile flavor, while the color is preserved over time.
Curcuma powder is one of the ingredients of the masala (which coincides roughly with what is called curry in the West), giving it an intense and distinctive yellow color. In addition to many other Indian recipes, turmeric is a key ingredient of many Asian recipes, such as the Nepalese dish called momos (Nepalese meat-based gnocchi) or the Thai dish called kaeng tai pla (curry with shrimp and fish).
Turmeric, in addition to giving flavor, is in fact, like saffron, a food dye. As well as in various recipes, it has been used in beverages, bakery products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, biscuits, popcorn, cakes, cereals, sauces, jelly, etc. Among the food additives codified by the European Union, curcumin, for a variety of circumstances, occupies the first place: E100.
Curcuma has been known since antiquity as a dye for fabrics. From this point of view, however, it is not very precious because it tends to discolor in the sun.
A very particular use of turmeric as a dye is found in the folklore of some Indian regions where turmeric is used for the body. The most famous case is the Bengali ceremony of the gaee holud (or gaye holud) during the preparations for the wedding, where reddish or dark orange is called the syndrome called curcuma.
Curcuma is therefore an excellent natural dye: always in China and India is used to dye silk and cotton fabrics, and Indian women use it as a cosmetic for wedding and birthdays. Did you know that the garments of Buddhist monks are dyed with turmeric ?!
Finally, traditional medicine and partly modern medicine attribute to turmeric interesting medicinal properties.
In fact, turmeric properties have been known to the Asian populations for centuries and for some time this spice has also attracted the attention of the scientific world. What caught the attention of researchers is the very low incidence of tumors in India, the country where the world’s largest spice consumption is recorded. The scholars have attributed to the turmeric antioxidant properties. This feature would be attributed to curcumin, a substance present within the spice and endowed with a strong antioxidant power, which blocks the growth of tumor cells, making them regress until they die. In particular, numerous studies have shown a strong protection against tumors, particularly the digestive tract (colon, stomach, intestine, esophagus, etc.). It also appears that this spice has positive effects also in the prevention of breast cancer. In addition to this incredible property, the curcuma enjoys many other benefits recognized by the scientific community: it is an excellent anti-inflammatory, digestive and hepatoprotective. It is precisely on the liver that the turmeric exercises a strong detoxifying action, cleansing it from excesses and accumulated waste over time. For this reason it is often indicated in the event of abuse of alcohol or drugs, cirrhosis, hepatitis or as digestive tract for slow digestion, heaviness or intestinal disturbances. Moreover, thanks to its high anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is a well-known remedy against arthritis, osteoarthritis and muscle inflammation. But the benefits of the curcuma do not end there. Curcumin has healing properties: in India, turmeric rhizome is applied to treat wounds, burns, insect bites and skin diseases. Additionally, the curcuma helps remove skin impurities, especially in the case of acne and oily skin. According to several studies, this spice can be considered a good ally in strengthening immune defenses thanks to its immunostimulant activity. In case of flu or seasonal illness, therefore, a good potato dish may be of support, or, following a medical consultation, it is possible to evaluate the intake of this plant based supplements with more concentrated active ingredients And therefore more effective. It is important to know that turmeric is always associated with pepper and vegetable oil to benefit the best of its properties.
Methods of Preparation –
Let’s now look at some tips on how to use turmeric in the kitchen. One easy thing to do is to add a couple of teaspoons of turkey to the pasta baking water or a sprinkle directly on the condiment. Great integration is obtained between turmeric and cereals such as chickpeas or lentils. Half teaspoon in a cup of black tea will give a particularly Middle Eastern flavor to the drink. In Oriental medicine, in the case of intestinal disorders, a tablespoon of turmeric is dissolved in a glass of hot water; This will help to digest better and benefit from all the properties of the curcuma. It is also advisable not to exceed the dose of 2 teaspoons per day of turmeric powder, while in case you are using supplements, it is best to follow the instructions on the packaging. Do not confuse curcuma with curry. Curry is a set of spices including turmeric.
We discover, like turmeric, a spice with unmistakable flavor and sunshine, it can enrich our dishes not only in taste, but also and above all in health.
In Italy the use of turmeric in the kitchen has been introduced quite recently, at the same time as the advent of different types of international cuisine, which have been integrated in the well-known Mediterranean diet.
To make the most of its properties, we recommend eating it fresh, adding it only at the end of cooking or raw, however it remains in any case a precious ally for our health in other variants. The bitter and slightly bitter taste of turmeric makes it perfect in salty dishes (soups, cereal salads, vegetable dumplings, first and second course sauces, soups), but in some cases it is also used in sweet recipes: it is frequently exploited Its dyeing power, for example, to give a shade of cream and pudding more yellow, such as the cream in its vegan version, which with the addition of a pinch of turmeric powder will undoubtedly be indistinguishable from the traditional colleague. Another famous preparation featuring curcuma in the kitchen is Golden Milk, a kind of flavored milk prepared by Yoga masters to keep the body joints healthy: you will find the recipe at the end of the article. It is essential to associate turmeric with a fat (excellent extra virgin olive oil) and pepper: piperine, in fact, its active ingredient, maximizes the absorption of nutrients. Free way, then, without exaggerating, to the classic “final dusting” before serving your dishes. Another association we recommend is that with cabbage and broccoli, which contain isotanium, a component capable of increasing the absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric. Curcuma is the queen of Indian cuisine, primarily as the key ingredient of the famous Curry, but also alone is added to countless dishes. In addition to India, they are widely used in Nepal, Thailand (by combining it particularly with fish) and China.
In order not to lose its characteristic aroma, we suggest keeping the curcumin powder in glass jars, non-transparent, hermetically sealed and protected from sunlight. For the fresh one, the advice is to put it in a fridge, wrapped in a paper towel and then inserted in a plastic bag: it will last for a few weeks.
Some interesting recipes with turmeric:
- Quinoa curds and broccoli – Ingredients (for 4 people): 200 gr quinoa, 2 broccoli, 150 gr lentils flour, 1 tablespoon turmeric, sprinkle black pepper, 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 large onion or 1 small, salt, 2 tablespoons of evo oil Procedure: Rinse the quinoa well using a fine knot, place it in a pot with water (1 part quinoa, 2 parts and 1/2 of water), then on medium heat until boiling. When bubbling, stir fast, cover and leave on fire for 10 minutes. Then turn off the stove, wait another 10 minutes, always leave the lid, then grind the quinoa cooked with a fork or spoon and let it cool. While preheating the oven at 200 °, blot and chop broccoli, garlic and onion, sprinkle them with turmeric and black pepper and boil them in steam. Once cooked, shake them for a few minutes (do not exaggerate otherwise the result will be too liquid), then mix them with quinoa. Add the lentil flour, stir and, if necessary, add the other (max. 1 tablespoon) until the mixture can be worked with your hands to form the meatballs. Adjust salt. Cover the dough with a spooled oven paper with two tablespoons of oil, make the meatballs (about 6 cm in diameter, so not too small), just crush them and lay them over with delicacy. Bake for about half an hour, turning the curcumettes half cooked (be careful not to squeeze them off). Serve hot.
- Golden Milk – Ingredients for turmeric pasta: half cup turmeric powder, half a cup of water, ½ teaspoon pepper for Golden Milk: 1 tablespoon turmeric, 1 cup milk (vaccine or vegetable), 1 teaspoon Of sweet almond oil to food, 1 pinch of pepper, honey, syrup or malt to sweeten. Procedure: Prepare the turkey paste first by boiling water, pepper and spice, stirring continuously until thickening. Once cold put in the fridge for max 40 days. For Golden Milk just mix all the ingredients of the latter together, possibly placing on the fire if you want the hot drink (we recommend it in this version), possibly blending it to make it more foamy. A final cinnamon powder will make it even smelling!
Finally, to make your skin benefit from this root, you can prepare a mix of 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder, a few drops of lemon juice and a little water to make a homogeneous mixture in a bowl. Apply the mixture on the face and let it work for 10/15 minutes before rinsing. The yellowish color that the curcuma releases into the skin will go away naturally after two or three washings.
In a healthy subject, the curcuma has no particular contraindications. It is advisable to ask your doctor for advice before taking turmeric in case you are suffering from disturbances such as gastric ulcer, obstruction of the bile ducts, jaundice or liver failure. Excessive amounts of turmeric can cause nausea or gastric acidity. It is also possible to interact with hypoglycemic drugs, anticoagulants and immunosuppressants, so those who take this type of medication should limit the consumption of this spice. Finally it is not recommended in pregnancy, breastfeeding and in children under 2 years of age.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Please note: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgici uses are indicated for information purposes only, do not represent in any way a medical prescription; it accepts no liability on their use for therapeutic purposes, cosmetic or food.