Turmeric is the rhizome, or root stem, of a tropical blade-leafed plant. The rhizome has an abstract finger-like shape with a rough skin marked with knobs and rings. Turmeric rhizomes often grow up to 3-4 inches long and one-half to one inch in diameter. Its skin's color is a combination of pale earth and orange. The flesh is a vibrant carrot orange color and its flavor warm and peppery with very distinct bitter undertones. It is most often boiled and then dried for powdered form, in which it turns its trademark color.
Turmeric is available year-round with limited supplies during the summer months.
Turmeric, scientifically known as Curcuma longa, is a tropical flowering perennial that falls within the same family as ginger and is one of two rhizomes with an appearance similar to the spicy root. It's cultivated and harvested for its roots, though its leaves are also used in some cultures.
Turmeric root has both culinary and medicinal benefits that can be attributed to curcumin, the primary active ingredient in turmeric. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that is used throughout Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines.
Fresh Turmeric's gentle carrot/ginger-like flavor lends itself well to both sweet and savory applications. It adds freshness to curries and soups, and can be pickled or fried. Its vibrant color is a wonderful addition to any dish, but can also stain clothing and porous surfaces.