You can find it in lattes, mustards, curries, and facemasks, and it doesn’t seem to be leaving our health and wellness radar anytime soon. We’re talking about turmeric, one of the trendiest superfoods that you can grow right in your Fort Lauderdale backyard!
Turmeric is commonly used as a spice in powder form, which is made by drying and grinding the plant’s rhizomes. Native to South Asia, turmeric is in the same family as ginger and has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine.
Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is one of the hottest superfood trends for a good reason. Though studies are still being conducted, this medicinal plant is said to have anti-inflammatory properties, help with digestion, and provide pain relief. Plus, its earthy, bitter flavor and its bright yellow color add interest to any dish.
Turmeric has been shown to have benefits when digested and when applied topically to treat minor skin conditions like acne scarring.
How to Grow and Harvest Turmeric
The herbaceous turmeric plant can grow up to 3 feet tall and has white, yellow, or pink flowers—so, not only is the plant good for your body, but it also makes a beautiful addition to your garden.
Living in Fort Lauderdale, you’re lucky enough to get to grow this superfood outside all year ’round. Plant your turmeric rhizomes early in the spring. Grow them in a spot in your yard with partial shade and well-drained soil or grow it in a pot. Choose rhizomes that are firm and have lots of buds.
Before planting, cut the rhizomes into one-inch pieces with at least one bud on each, and place the pieces just below the soil surface, about 15 inches apart, or a bit closer if in a pot. Fertilize about once every month. Water as needed — keep the soil moist, but don’t let it get too wet; otherwise, you’ll risk rotting the rhizomes.
The plant takes between eight and ten months to grow to maturity. When the leaves and stem start to dry out and turn brown, it’s time to harvest. Harvesting the rhizomes is quite simple: just dig the plant up, carefully remove some rhizomes, and replant the rest.
How to Prepare Fresh Turmeric and Turmeric Powder
Now that you’ve grown and harvested your own turmeric, it’s time to use it! To make turmeric powder, boil the rhizomes, remove the skin, dry them in sunlight, then grind them into a powder using a spice mill, mortar and pestle, or coffee grinder. Store the powder in airtight containers.
Alternatively, you can use fresh turmeric rhizomes similar to how you might use ginger. Just peel the rhizome, and grate directly into your dishes. One tablespoon of grated turmeric is equal to about one teaspoon of ground turmeric. Fresh rhizomes last about six months in an airtight container in the fridge. Toss them in the freezer if you want them to last longer.
How to Cook with Turmeric
Add the powder or fresh root to smoothies, curry, soup, stirfry, rice, coffee, tea — the list goes on. Some studies say that adding black pepper to your dishes can help your body absorb the beneficial ingredients of turmeric. To benefit from turmeric’s health properties, add one to two grams of turmeric to your food, though you should always consult your physician to make sure any therapeutic plant is safe for you.
Growing turmeric is an excellent addition to your Florida tea garden. To make turmeric tea, also called golden milk, heat two cups of milk and one teaspoon of ground turmeric (or one tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric) in a pot. You can also add honey, cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then strain.
Be aware that turmeric can stain clothing, dishes, and counters bright yellow, but don’t let that deter you from growing and cooking with this superfood! Sunlight, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon can help with cleanup.
We think growing turmeric in your garden is a bit of a no-brainer — the plant is easy to grow, it adds a colorful, tropical look to your garden, and it has a myriad of health benefits. Stop by our garden center if you need any more convincing or if you have any questions about how to grow turmeric in Fort Lauderdale!