Turmeric Selection, Storage, and Cooking Tips

A Spice Highly Susceptible to Light

Tumeric spice measured into a bowl
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Whole or ground dried turmeric is readily available in the spice section of most grocery stores. The most widely used form is ground turmeric. Since it is highly susceptible to light, it is usually packed in airtight tins. Store the tin in a cool, dark place. Turmeric will begin to lose its potency after about six months, even sooner if exposed to light and/or heat.

Turmeric Cooking Tips and Usage

  • Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron.
  • Turmeric is an important ingredient in curry mixes, chutney, and mustard pickles. It also goes well with chicken, duck, turkey, vegetables, rice, and salad dressing.
  • Turmeric is extremely pungent and actually gets stronger when cooked. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly when experimenting.
  • Avoid touching your clothing when working with turmeric. It is a powerful yellow dye.
  • Although a pinch of turmeric may be used as a substitute for saffron to achieve that golden yellow color, the flavor does not compare in the least.
  • Substitute 1 teaspoon dry mustard for 1 teaspoon of turmeric.
  • The color of turmeric can vary widely from deep yellow-orange to bright yellow. This is simply due to different varieties.
  • It is suggested to use black pepper in conjunction with turmeric to realize any potential health benefits.

Cookbooks That Use Turmeric

For a cookbook specializing in Indian cooking, try Savoring the Spice Coast of India or Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.

For a more general cookbook about spices, or just a handy reference guide, pick up Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference or The Spice Lover's Guide to Herbs & Spices.