Grinding Turmeric, Humanity's Very Old Friend


Humanity has been digging turmeric for a long time. It is more than a new age remedy for your aches and pains. Turmeric has been a part of h...

Humanity has been digging turmeric for a long time. It is more than a new age remedy for your aches and pains. Turmeric has been a part of human culture and diets for millennia. It was carried by Polynesian explorers. It was sold by merchants in the Middle East 4000 years ago, and at least as many years in India. So how easy is it to grow?

I decided to experiment and purchased a small container of fresh, organic turmeric from our local Sprouts store. For those of you unfamiliar with turmeric as something other than the powder in the jar, it grows as a rhizome in the soil. 

Turmeric rhizome

I planted the rhizome in fresh potting soil in a 16" plastic pot in January of 2020. It took months before the first stems appeared, then it flourished.

The leaves looked like a large lily. When they started to wilt in December of 2020, I dug up the rhizome crop and set to the task of separating the roots from rhizomes.

I ended up with nearly a pound of rhizomes! 

The next step was to boil the rhizomes for 45 to 60 minutes. The boiling gelatinizes the starch, making the drying process easier.

I then diced the rhizomes as if I were dicing carrots. Then I hung the slices in fruit protection bags on the back trellis. I took advantage of a California "Santa Ana" wind event, where the humidity is measured in single digits. It only took a few days for the pieces to dry to a crisp.

The pieces were ground and shifted (repeat as needed) until all the pieces have been reduced to a powder.

Now that I had turmeric, what could I do with it? 

I searched of recipes containing turmeric on the New York Times food section and found Sam Sifton's Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma.


      • 2 lemons, juiced
      • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
      • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
      • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
      • 2 teaspoons paprika
      • ½ teaspoon turmeric
      •  A pinch ground cinnamon
      •  Red pepper flakes, to taste
      • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
      • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
      • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Two little rhizomes gave me a pound of results, and lots of turmeric for a year of shawarmas. It was well worth the effort.



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At Home and Away: Grinding Turmeric, Humanity's Very Old Friend
Grinding Turmeric, Humanity's Very Old Friend
At Home and Away
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