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Behind the Seasoning: Ground Turmeric

A jar of Ground Turmeric

You probably know turmeric for its bright yellow color. While the color is one of the defining qualities of this spice, there is a whole lot more to know about this golden powder. Read along to see where the spice originated and how to use it in your everyday cooking. 

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric may have become more trendy in the food community in the last few years, but the spice has been around for thousands of years. The bright yellow powder stems from a root known as Curcuma longa, which is part of the ginger family. Native to the Southeast Asian and Indian subcontinent, the uses for turmeric go way beyond just a spice for cooking. Asian communities used turmeric as a dye, while Indian communities adopted the root for use in holistic Ayurvedic medicine.

Today, turmeric is used around the world and is a key ingredient in most curry powders as well as in Indian and Asian dishes. But it is also found in rubs and seasonings in many other cuisines.

What is Ground Turmeric vs. Turmeric Powder

Don’t let the name fool you — ground turmeric and turmeric powder are essentially the exact same thing. For both, fresh turmeric root is dehydrated and ground into a fine powder. The packaging for the two products may be different and the texture may vary slightly, but the use is the same. 

Buy Ground Turmeric on orange on the left with a spoon of ground turmeric on the right

What Does Ground Turmeric Taste Like?

The taste of turmeric can be a little surprising. The root is rather bitter, with pungent notes of citrus and ginger. It has a very earthy flavor that might remind you of cumin, and a small amount of the seasoning goes a long way. Because of its bitterness and distinctive strong taste, the ground powder is often mixed with other spices to balance out the flavors. Two of our favorite blends that feature turmeric in a palatable, balanced way (but are very different) are Mild Yellow Curry Powder and our Bucktown Brown Mustard & Honey Rub.

What Other Spice, Seasoning, and Flavors Pair Well with Turmeric Powder?

The earthy quality of turmeric means that this spice pairs well with a variety of other spices, herbs, and flavors. Bold spices like cumin, cloves, mustard seed, and pepper are all excellent pairings for turmeric. Often, turmeric will be found in combination with at least 4-5 other spices. Turmeric can almost always be found in the ingredient list when it comes to curries and masalas.

Close up of turmeric, chile flakes, and parsley

What Are Ground Turmeric Substitutes?

The earthy flavor of turmeric can be replicated by other spices. In a pinch, try cumin or paprika, depending on the recipe you’re making. If you want to add earthy flavor with a little kick, try dry mustard. Because it’s a key ingredient in Mild Yellow Curry Powder or Medium Yellow Curry Powder (turmeric makes up about 20-25% of the blend) curry powder is a great substitute. If you want the bright yellow color and flavor in the dish, try using saffron.

Fresh turmeric is generally more difficult to find and less readily available. But, of course fresh turmeric can be used to replace ground turmeric. About one inch of turmeric root will equal one teaspoon of turmeric powder. 

Are There Turmeric Powder Benefits for Health?

Turmeric can be highly beneficial when added to your diet. The root is also commonly found as a supplement and can be extremely beneficial when it comes to brain and body health. The root is a natural anti-inflammatory, can increase antioxidants, can lower your risk of heart disease, and has properties that may even help prevent cancer. It can also boost brain development and be used when treating Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and depression. There are basically no downsides to adding the root to your diet. Again, simply adding curry powder to your culinary repertoire can be an easy way to increase the amount of turmeric in your diet.

Halloumi Tikka Masala with grilled naan, lemon slices, herbs, and curry paste

What are Uses for Ground Turmeric?

If you are new to cooking with ground turmeric, get ready to take your taste buds on a journey, as there is so much to do with the spice. Turmeric is a key ingredient when making your own curry blend or cooking up Thai Green Chicken Curry or Halloumi Tikka Masala. The spice also transforms the color and flavor of vegetable, bean, and rice dishes. 

The spice is also a favorite to use in hot beverages, including tea or lattes. If you’ve seen golden milk in your local coffee shop, chances are they are adding turmeric to their milk to get that excellent golden color. Warm up and protect your immune system all at the same time with this immunity-boosting, warming Hotshot Toddy

Be aware when cooking with turmeric that its bright yellow color will not only transform your dish but also your hands. 

Pro tip! Wear rubber gloves or wash your hands immediately after handling turmeric. That way, the color has less of a chance to leave its mark. 

Where & How to Buy Ground Turmeric Powder

Ground turmeric is available in most grocery stores in the spice section. Our stores have all of your turmeric needs covered. You can find Ground Turmeric available in all different sizes for your cooking needs. If you’d rather see the ground turmeric in person, see where you can find our products in-store using our store locator feature. 

If you are feeling adventurous and want to use fresh turmeric in your recipe, you can find the root in some supermarkets. Don’t head for the spice section and instead, look where your store keeps the fresh ginger. The turmeric root will likely be nearby. It looks a lot like ginger, but with a yellow tint. Pick a piece that is firm and doesn’t feel soft or dry when you pick it up. 

Fruit Masala Lassi surrounded by ingredients and spices

Ground Turmeric Powder Recipes

Adding turmeric to your recipes can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Luckily, we are here to guide you with some basic recipes that will turn you into a big turmeric fan. 

Recipes with Turmeric Powder: These recipes cover a number of ways to easily add turmeric to every meal - and drinks and desserts too!

  • Fruit Masala Lassi - If you like smoothies, start your morning off on the right foot with this flavorful, protein-packed yogurt drink. Lassi is typically made with mango but use your favorite fruit for a refreshing mid-afternoon treat.
  • Boudin Benedict with Hot Honey Hollandaise - Forget going out for brunch, make this instead. If you want a simpler breakfast, just make the waffles instead of the whole dish!  
  • Indian Gujarati Slaw - This version of coleslaw gets upgraded with flavor and texture: nutty sesame, creamy coconut, and spicy jalapenos. Serve chilled or at room temp.
  • Crispy Persian Style Rice- This recipe takes your mouth on a journey full of textures and flavors. Enjoy sweet, salty, crispy, and chewy in one bite.
  • Golden Vanilla Chai Tea Cakes - Turmeric gives these little chai tea cakes a beautiful yellow color that is almost too pretty to eat. 

Recipes with Turmeric Blends: As we mentioned before, turmeric is an ingredient in many spice mixes. Here are a few of our favorite seasonings that have the golden glow and earthy flavor turmeric...and great recipes to use them in.

Cooked, sliced ham with a hand holding a jar of Bucktown Brown Mustard & Honey Rub in front

To find other similar flavors, check out our Earthy Spices & Herbs or World Flavors collection. Learn more in our Behind the Seasoning: Curry Powder article. Or leave a comment below and share your favorite uses for Turmeric.

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