it’s a turmeric day in the neighborhood

Back in May, I spent a weekend day turning a pound of fresh turmeric into a variety of edible forms. It was an exercise in medicine making, food as medicine and the way these things can connect even far-flung community.

The beautiful turmeric roots came from my friend Krista’s farm on the big Island of Hawaii, by way of Missy’s Portland porch. My bestie Becka and I made a day of it, infusing the fresh, shredded root in ghee and in local honey.

Turmeric is justly famous as both a food and a medicine. It’s a traditional ingredient in many South Asian recipes, and is a great addition to … almost anything.

As a medicine, it’s earned a great reputation as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

I will often prescribe it for folks with inflammatory joint pain. Turmeric also has been shown effective in optimizing cholesterol levels, helping correct blood-sugar imbalances, protect against neurological disorders and more. [PMID: 3125563629065496.]

Plus, look at that color!

We grated up the roots and added a couple of handfuls each to some ghee and some honey. We kept both on low heat for a few hours (while we watched a movie in Becka’s basement) and then strained it out.

Want to see the whole process? You can find it in the “medicine” highlights on my Instagram.

I’m definitely going to use the ghee for things like kale chips, but really anytime I want to add some extra goodness to veggies or beans.

And the honey? Well, one can always find an excuse for that!

Here in Portland, you can often find fresh turmeric in our co-ops, Asian markets and fancy grocery stores. It’s especially luxurious, though, if you can get it straight from the source. This turmeric comes from Keala’ola Farm on the Big Island of Hawai’i. I get my honey locally from Mickelberry Gardens; if you’re not in Oregon, check your farmer’s markets for local options.

(Note, too, that you don’t need fresh roots to get turmeric’s magic. Regular, store-bought turmeric powder is excellent, although fresher is always better. And it’s even easier to add to ghee or honey since you don’t need to worry about the extra water causing your concoctions to mold.)

Have you used fresh turmeric? How do you love it best? Let me know and I’ll add your suggestions to this post.


—Dr. Orna