‘Member’ of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), Turmeric is the dried rhizome (root) that lends the beautiful ochre color and an earthy, slightly bitter, and gingery flavor to food. It is a commonly found spice in almost every household given how it uplifts food and the wide range of health benefits. It can be used in both its fresh and powdered forms since these are just variations of the same rhizome. Turmeric powder is derived from fresh turmeric that has been dehydrated and ground, hence both have the same properties albeit with different textures. While fresh ginger should be stored in the refrigerator and would be suitable for use for a few weeks, turmeric powder lasts for years when stored carefully in an airtight container placed away from light.
Turmeric has been part of Indian households and used in cooking, for centuries, given its health benefits. Despite the differences in bio-availability, both fresh turmeric, and powder, contain loads of antioxidants. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin (the main antioxidant), which is more easily absorbed by the body when using fresh turmeric. Good quality powdered turmeric also contains curcumin; however, the potency is lower in comparison.
Fresh turmeric has a more vibrant and spicier taste and can be used while cooking. You can choose to scrape off the peel or use it as it is after giving it a thorough wash. Add zing and nutrition to shakes and smoothies with the inclusion of this spice in its root form! As a pickle, turmeric not only adds a punch of nutritional benefits but also adds spicy goodness and an appetizing aroma to any meal. The root or rhizome form of turmeric contains all the natural oils, which contain antiseptic and antibacterial properties. These properties protect the body against infections and viruses, while also hastening the healing of wounds and burns. It can be consumed in milk or as tea, making it more pleasant to taste.
Turmeric powder derived from chopping and boiling fresh turmeric does lose some important oils, but still has loads of nutritional and medicinal value. The reason this form of turmeric is used more frequently is that it is easily available and simpler to use. It can be added to any food when cooking and does not overpower the food with the trademark pungency of its root form. Turmeric powder also adds the bright and beautiful yellow-golden color seen in some food preparations.
Fresh versus Powder Turmeric: Which One is Better
While some people prefer turmeric in its raw form, powdered turmeric is also a popular choice. Thus, both forms are widely used and often interchangeably. However, depending on which type is used, the quantities would need to be adjusted in order to get the right taste. While fresh turmeric still contains moisture and hence when it is ground, the result is a paste. This obviously does not work where a dry curry powder or dry rub is essential to a dish. For such use, turmeric powder is more efficient and easier to use.
With fresh turmeric you would need to use three times more as compared to powdered turmeric – for example: if a dish needs a tablespoon of powdered turmeric, you would need to use three tablespoons of fresh turmeric. It is recommended that fresh turmeric is used for dishes that would be consumed raw – shakes, milk, smoothies, and even pickles. When cooking, powdered turmeric works better, although you can use fresh turmeric too.
However, you use turmeric, the fact is that it is one of the most effective and high nutrition supplements known to humankind. It has proven benefits for not just the body, but also the brain. Get yourself some of the good yellow stuff!
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