Valerie O’Connor extols the virtues of the yellow root.
Turmeric is most commonly known as that vivid yellow spice that makes curries a lovely colour, a poor man’s saffron.
It turns out that this beautiful spice is much more than just a pretty face however.
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory food that cleans out the kidneys, the liver and helps to heal the body.
It is being cited as the most effective nutritional supplement in existence for body and brain.
The active component of turmeric is curcumin which is a strong anti-oxidant with potent anti-inflammatory effects.
To fully benefit from turmeric you have to take it with fats, that’s why it’s prepared in curries, or else you can take it when prepared as the nutritional supplement Ukon, a preparation of turmeric from the Japanese island of Okinawa, famed for having residents who have longevity and happiness.
Turmeric is said to be as powerful as some anti-inflammatory drugs when taken in correct amounts, and you don’t have to deal with the side effects of medications.
Curcumin boosts levels of brain hormones which increase the growth of new neurons and can fight degenerative processes in the brain.
It is said to cross the brain-blood barrier and can help to clear the plaques that develop on the brain which lead to Alzheimers disease.
However, if you don’t consume turmeric with other substances namely black pepper and omega 3 fats, it will simply go in one end and out the other.
So, you can either get some Ukon supplement which is pricey but effective, or you can ferment it to make its effective ingredients available to your body.
It seems that strong pro-biotic and anti- inflammatory drugs or supplements are the first port of call when dealing with disease so I am experimenting with turmeric kimchi.
In theory this should give you good gut bacteria and an anti-inflammatory in one, plus fibre and tons of Vitamin C.
This will work out about €100 cheaper per month than buying supplements. However, the supplement is very good, so if budget isn’t an issue for you, go this way.
Meanwhile, at Val’s Kitchen HQ and in my most recent fermenting class where I focused on turmeric, I made a batch of fruit kimchi.
Kimchi comes in many guises and purists may argue that, as this doesn’t contain cabbage, it isn’t kimchi, but it ferments and contains lots of the other ingredients and it tastes amazing.
Use organic or locally grown and unsprayed fruit where possible. the fruit used is a guideline, use what’s handy but stay away from bananas. This concoction has a certain mojito-ness due to the limes and mint.
You will need a 2 litre clean and sterilised clip-top jar
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 apples, cored and chopped
1 pear, cored and chopped
1 bunch seedless grapes
2 limes - juiced
Large bunch mint torn up
3-4 spring onions chopped
3-4 cloves garlic - chopped
1 tblsp sea salt
2-4 tblsp Korean chili powder
100g grated fresh turmeric
4 tblsp whey - make whey by draining a large tub of organic, plain yogurt through a muslin-lined strainer. Keep the whey in the fridge for up to six months.
Method 1. Mix everything together in a large bowl and pack it into your cooled down jar.
2. Pack it in well to ensure no air bubbles as much as possible, use your fist or a rolling pin to pack it down.
3. Close the lid and store the jar at room temperature at this time of year, or, ideally 20C. Keep it on a plate to catch overflow.
4. Open it once a day to let the gasses out and when they subside you can taste it, it will be unlike anything you’ve had before.
Store fruit kimchi in the fridge and taste your spicy fruit salad for up to six months.
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