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How to harvest and process Turmeric

If you have any questions regarding processing turmeric, look no further. You have come to the right place. I was looking for answers myself and never found it, so I decided to find it out for myself. If you have questions like;

  • Why does it say that we must boil the turmeric before processing?
  • Is it necessary to boil it?
  • What happens if I process it raw?
  • What’s the difference between processing it either raw or boiled?
  • What are the pros and cons of boiling and raw processing of turmeric?

Then, this post and the video I am sharing will answer all of these questions. Let’s start at the very beginning…

It was last year in January. We were packing up to travel to our native place for Pongal celebration. On the way we were planning to stop at our farm and gift new dresses to our farm workers and then carry on forward on our journey. As the car rolled by I noticed the markets flooded with sugarcane, earthen wares and various special festival items and something caught my eye – TURMERIC!  And there were loads of them on display. In a flash I had realized that I had been waiting for this season to get these rhizomes forever! I had to act fast. I asked my husband to pull the car over to buy some of them to plant them on my farm. I knew it was now or never; because if I miss this opportunity, I will have to wait another whole year to start growing them. The rest as they is history…haha!

Turmeric Plants – Pic courtesy (Authors own)

But when it came to processing the turmeric, I was at loggerheads as there were conflicting thoughts about processing it. So I was stuck at a particularly tough decision – to boil or not to boil! Wondering what I am talking about. Well, check out the video where I finally discover for myself which is the best way to process turmeric; at least for me.

Watch this video to see how we planted, harvested and processed these beauties! And to know all the details about how to grow them, continue reading.

Benefits of Turmeric:

Ok, so, Turmeric, known as Manjal in Tamil and haldi in Hindi, is a popular spice. Botanically called Curcuma longa, turmeric belongs to Zingiberaceae family- the same family as ginger. You won’t find any household without a bottle or two of these in powdered form because we Indians put this in literally every curry/gravy/ and anything else. We love it too much. It’s used as a condiment, dyeing agent, flavoring agent and as a medicine too! Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antiviral properties. The curcumin compound is well known for curing cold, cough and chest congestion. Studies show that it prevents cancer, Alzheimer, heart diseases and many other illnesses.

Apart from the culinary and medicinal aspect, this spice has a significant cultural importance attached to it too. No auspicious ceremony or festival in Hindu religion is complete without its prominent presence! Let’s say it is a sacred spice of India.

Important points to remember about Turmeric Growing:

First of all, let me encourage you by saying that this is an easy, low maintenance crop. You should definitely try it even if in just one container or a very small space. Let’s check the list of things to keep in mind before you start.

1.Climate

Turmeric needs a warm, humid climate for growth. It grows very well in Chennai for sure. The ideal temperature ranges between 25 – 35 degree Celsius.

2.Soil

Though a well-draining soil mix is the best, clayey soil with a large amount of humus works really well for growing turmeric. My farm soil is pre-dominantly clayey and I have been amending it with lots of compost and mulching. That really worked well for growing turmeric.

It is also important to feed your soil intermittently with organic manure as this is a 10 month to a one year crop. The soil needs to be rich in nutrients for the plants to grow well.

3.Sowing/planting

When sowing the rhizomes there should be minimum space of 5 inches between two rhizomes. You can grow many crops in a small space and they grow very well together.

4.Sunlight

Sunlight is very essential as for every vegetable crop. Pick a spot that gets a minimum of 5-6 hours of direct sunlight.

5.Water

Turmeric needs a good amount of water to grow nice and big rhizomes. Make sure to give them enough drink of water every day.

 

Harvesting of Turmeric

Turmeric is usually ready for harvest within 10 months to a year of sowing. They are ready for harvest when the leaves and stem start turning brown and dry up progressively. I harvested mine after a year as my plants didn’t show signs of drying up. I waited only until the leaves started yellowing and harvested them. I got a pretty good yield for a small patch I planted.

You then dig up the area around each plant and pull out the rhizomes. The extraction can be done by hand-picking if it’s in containers or you can use a spade to carefully lift the clumps up without damaging the rhizomes.

Once you have dug out every bit of turmeric, make sure you wash the rhizomes thoroughly to remove all the mud and other impurities. You might have to wash them 4-5 times until the water you are washing in comes out clean. This is a very important step as these are dug from under the ground and there could be a lot of minute particles of mud sticking to it.

Processing Turmeric:

Once you have washed and dried the turmeric, you can make turmeric powder and store it for a year or more. I have shared a detailed video on how I tried it two ways – the boiled and the raw method. You will find all the details in this video where I am bursting some common doubts surrounding the processing of turmeric. So don’t miss it!

So, I hope you got a fair idea about growing and harvesting turmeric. Don’t wait any longer and try growing them soon and reap the benefits!

Drop in your comments and questions below and I will get back to you soon.

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