Turmeric, the golden spice. This is an herb that packs a powerful punch when it comes to inflammation. Also known as curcumin, we find this spice mostly in Indian dishes. It is what gives curry it’s yellowish tint. I love adding this to tomato sauces and even sprinkling on my salads. In addition, adding black pepper with turmeric helps in the absorption of turmeric as it contains piperine. Packed with antioxidants, this beautiful superfood protects against many types of cancer as well. But have you ever wondered how to grow turmeric?
Where to Find Turmeric Root
This is a tropical plant so growing this plant outdoors is not going to be ideal for most of us. The root of the plant is the rhizome. A reddish-brown tuber as shown above. You can find this root in most health food or grocery stores. I picked mine up at a local grocery store. They should look like the picture above when you purchase them and not soft. I find that these are only seasonal in stores, however, so you may not find it readily available year-round. I really like Melissa’s turmeric, but as you can see here – the cost of turmeric isn’t cheap.
Like most rhizomes, you’ll want to leave this on your countertop in the container you bought it in (which is typically vented) or in a vented container. It needs air. Mine already came in a vented plastic container so I just kept them in there. The spot you place these in should not be in an overly dark location but should allow some light to reach it. You do not want direct sunlight, however. I placed mine in a corner of my countertop that is mostly shaded but received a bit of morning light. Be patient! It can take weeks for sprouting to occur, but when it does, you should be able to see little green sprouts start to grow. Here’s a picture of some of my turmeric sprouting:
You’ll notice the rhizomes begin to darken before sprouting occurs and become a bit soft and shriveled, but not too much. I let the sprout grow to about two inches before planting. Of course, some will begin to sprout faster than others and you can pot these will you wait for the rest.
How to Grow Turmeric in a Pot
Choosing a Pot
It’s important to use a good clay pot as these won’t have chemicals that leach into your plant. The pot should also be roughly 12 inches long and wide. The pot should be a well-draining pot and not allow the liquid to sit at the bottom. I’ve got mine on a coaster as clay pots are porous and allow the liquid to seep in so you want to place this on something that won’t damage furniture or your flooring.
Choosing the Soil
You’ll want a good organic mix for vegetables. These plants like slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil, but most do well in alkaline soil. Most soils are alkaline. I’ve found it’s very hard to acidify soil quickly to control the pH, but if you need to drop it – crushed eggshells mixed up in the soil should work fine to acidify the soil over time. Soil should be roughly around a pH of 7.4.
Planting Sprouted Turmeric
The rhizome should be placed with the eyes or sprouts up out of the soil. Cover the rest with dirt and water thoroughly. These should not be planted too deep, but about 2 inches below the soil. The pot should then be placed in a sunny location of the home that gets morning sun. You can plant 2-3 rhizomes per pot at a good distance from each other, but no more as you don’t want to crowd the pot. Some people like to cut up the rhizome into sections with the eyes or sprouts and then plant each section, but I just took the whole tuber and planted it. Once the soil is dry, you can water again. The temperature should never get to below 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here’s a picture of the sprouted turmeric I planted:
And voila! I may plant another rhizome in here, but for now, I have two. The best part is watching the plant grow. Eventually, you’ll have a beautiful flowering turmeric plant!
The turmeric plant matures in about 8-10 months and grows to about 4 feet tall. A maturing turmeric plant will grow a flower, as shown above. Once the flower starts to die, make sure to cut this to encourage new growth. While this plant does not require pruning, leaves will start to yellow and these can be cut off without doing harm to the plant or left alone. Once all the leaves begin to yellow and die and the stem feels dry to the touch, you’re ready to harvest! Simply dig up the entire plant and harvest the roots. Mushy parts can be cut off. So you have the roots, what’s next?
How to Prepare Turmeric Root
You can dry the turmeric to make spice, re-sprout some of the rhizomes for planting again by following the above directions, and/or store the rest to shred into recipes. Fresh turmeric is delicious in spaghetti or tomato sauces and with roasted vegetables!
Making Homemade Turmeric Spice
- Boil the rhizomes.
- Carefully remove the skin from rhizomes.
- Place the bare rhizomes in a tray or plate.
- Dry them by exposing to direct sunlight.
- Rhizomes become dry when they become shriveled. When the rhizomes are dry, grind them and store your homemade organic fresh turmeric powder in an air tight container.
Storing Fresh Turmeric
If the soil is wet around the turmeric, you’ll either want to wash this off and completely dry before storing OR you can leave the dirt on the root and wash later – just make sure the soil is allowed to dry on the turmeric before storing. Wet turmeric can rotten fast in storage.
You can store fresh turmeric in the fridge in a paper bag (to whisk away any moisture that accumulates) or on the countertop in a vented container. Just be aware that storing on the countertop – they may sprout again! You can eat the skin so no need to peel these prior to shredding. Just shred or cut up into any favorite dish when you’re ready and enjoy!