Have you ever tried or seen curry and wondered where it got its bright color? The answer is: turmeric! Ground turmeric is one of the main ingredients of curry powder, giving curry its beautiful color.
This is a unique opportunity to try fresh hawaiian turmeric—'olena—which has a flavor that is brighter, more aromatic, and slightly less bitter than its ground counterpart. It will add a warm spicy flavor to any dish and a beautiful yellow-orange color.
Turmeric rhizomes look much like ginger but their thin skin is a bit more orangey. Once you cut into your fresh turmeric rhizome, you will see a brilliant deep yellow, orange or reddish orange color. Turmeric is mildly aromatic and has scents of orange or ginger. It has a warm, mildly spicy pungent, bitter flavor.
We mentioned that it goes great in curry, but it can also be infused with ginger to make a wonderful and healthy tea, added to smoothies, or even juiced with other fruits and vegetables. Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, has long been used for its medicinal properties.
With such a wide flavor profile, you can combine turmeric with other warm spices like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. You can take it in a more savory direction by combining in dishes with cumin, coriander, mustard, and black pepper.
Keep reading to learn more about turmeric and this special offering of 'Olena from Hawaii.
Turmeric, or Curcuma longa, is a member of the Zingiberaceae family along with ginger and heliconia. It is thought to have originated in India where it is called haldi, and has been used in Asia for thousands of years. It was first used to dye clothing and textiles.
It was such an important part of the culture that as the polynesians made their journeys in their wa'a—hand-hewn sailing canoes—they would bring turmeric with them, planting it wherever they landed. It is one of the 'canoe plants' that arrived in Hawaii, where turmeric is referred to as 'olena, which translates to yellow. Turmeric has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for over 4,000 years to help with everything from inflammation and gastrointestinal issues to welcoming positivity and good fortune. It is renowned for its 'mana' or spiritual powers by the Hawaiian culture.
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family that's native to tropical Thailand, India and Indonesia. It grows best in tropical climates, including Hawaii.
India is the world's leader in turmeric production, growing 78% of the global supply. They are followed by China, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Bangladesh.
Hawaii grown turmeric can be planted year round due to the unique climate. However, the main growing season for 'olena is spring to early summer and harvests from December to April. It then can be cured and stored for many months and retain its vibrancy and freshness.
After 5-6 months stored, the rhizome may begin to sprout and it's ready to be planted again. It's in the ground for 6-9 months and when the leaves on the above-ground foliage begin to become dry and brittle, it's ready to be harvested again.
Whether turmeric is organic or not will depend on the farm from which it comes.
The fresh hawaiian turmeric that you have received from Kipu Ranch Farms in Lihue, HI is not certified organic but it has been grown following sustainable farming practices, including those used in organic farming.