Cooking Intelligently with Turmeric

In case you didn’t know, turmeric, or Curcumalonga, is a perennial flowering plant of the ginger family. Its native habitat is the Indian subcontinent, and it’s the spice that gives curry its yellow color. Though it’s typically used in spicy foods, turmeric isn’t spicy in and of itself. It does,however,begin to break down after excessive heating, so cooking with it intelligently will help to keep its healthy benefits without denaturing it.

What Makes It Healthy?

The main health-beneficial components of turmeric are the antioxidant molecules called curcuminoids. These amazing molecules have been shown to inhibit inflammation, gallstones, ulcers, and to reduce bad microflora. The spice overall can help with muscle growth and regeneration, reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL), and helping the cardiovascular system stay healthy. There is also mounting evidence that curcumin can inhibit some cancers, such as oral, digestive and breast cancers. The spice can also help with depression and mood disorders and with problems associated with obesity.

How to Cook with Turmeric

Cooking with Turmeric is all about time and placement. While you can always cook to taste, to get the real benefits of turmeric, you need to make sure that you keep it away from the heat as long as possible. Nearly 85 percent of curcumin is denatured when turmeric is boiled for more than 15 minutes. It also doesn’t handle a neutral or alkaline pH very well, preferring a slightly acidic environment. Due to this, when cooking with turmeric, it’s good to add it as a spice to your food close to the end of the cooking process, when there is enough time for it still to soak into your food but not enough time for the turmeric to denature. If cooking on the stove in a pan, sprinkling turmeric on your dish between 2 to 5 minutes before you plan to take your dish off the stove is usually the right mix between taste and health benefits. When making a marinade, you will still enjoy the tasty benefits of cooking with turmeric, especially if marinating overnight, yet you will want to baste whatever you are cooking just a few minutes before the end of the cooking process with the marinade, in order to retain the curcumins.

Other Ways to Add Turmeric to Food

Sprinkling a bit on top of your food will always work, and mixing the spice with acidic compounds leads to a nice and tangy dressing. Try adding just a bit of vinegar to some turmeric powder for a very tangy paste, or some lemon juice for a lighter taste. You can also do this when you have turned down the heat on your stews, soups, and/or vegetables. Add the spice and the acidic stabilizing agent, and you’ll get a nice tangy tartness that goes with many dishes. Often, it goes fabulously on vegetables, giving them a bite they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Storing Your Turmeric

Turmeric doesn’t like light or heat very much. It needs to be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. Oftentimes, people store their turmeric in the refrigerator in a tightly capped bottle. If you don’t have an opaque jar, you can easily just cover it with foil to make sure as little light as possible seeps in. Since the shelf life of well-stored turmeric powder is three to four years, you don’t have to worry about it going bad or losing it’s potency too often.

Is Cooking With Turmeric Enough?

Realistically, no. While you will experience many health benefits, unless you want just about every meal you eat to be laden with the spice, it will not be enough to get the full benefits. One way that you can increase your turmeric intake is with smoothies, teas, and other drinks. Probably the easiest way to get the amount of turmeric you need is by taking it as a supplement, which will also bypass the necessity for ingesting so much of it and being very careful with your cooking. This is also a great way to get the benefits, as with a supplement, usually in the form of softgel caps, you can use additive supplements to make the turmeric more bioavailable. For example, Bioperine, which is a black pepper extract, can allow you to absorb as much as 2000% percent more of the healthy compounds in turmeric compared to eating turmeric alone. That’s why such supplements work with a much smaller amount of the spice.

Thousands of Years

Turmeric has been a staple of the diet of many millions of people, and there is evidence that it has been used for thousands of years, not only as a spice but to treat many ailments. This delicious food additive is available all over the world now, and it’s health benefits cannot be denied. Improve your dishes and your cooking today by adding some turmeric to your diet!