Turmeric is getting lots of attention these days because of its potential health benefits. Not only has the curcumin component of turmeric been shown to have anti inflammatory benefits, it has been associated with the inhibition of colon, gastric, breast and skin cancers. For more, see Modern Alternative Mama’s 7 Foods That Fight Cancer.
Can adding turmeric spice to tonight’s dinner give you all these benefits? Perhaps not. If a substance is poorly absorbed, has a high rate of metabolism, or is rapidly eliminated it is considered a substance with low bioavailability. Curcumin fits this profile. (For more see the article “Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises.”)
So while it won’t hurt to sprinkle powdered turmeric on your favorite dish, there may be more effective ways to integrate turmeric into your diet.
One option is to ferment raw turmeric root. A study published in the International Food Science and Technology found that the bioavailability of turmeric increased in rats when it was fermented. According to the study,
“Plasma antioxidant concentration was higher in rats administered fermented turmeric beverage than other turmeric products. . . “
How can we ferment turmeric? One option is to make a “turmeric bug.” This is similar to the ginger bug used frequently for beverages like ginger soda. The process is quite simple and a great choice for those new to fermentation. Grate raw turmeric, combine with water and sugar, and place on shelf away from direct sunlight. Continue to feed the blend with more sugar and turmeric until there are signs of fermentation.
For detailed instructions see “How to Make a Turmeric Bug.”
Once you have your turmeric bug there are a multitude of ways to use it.
1. Turmeric Lime Soda
This is a family favorite. With a hint of turmeric flavor and a nice burst of lime this probiotic beverage is full of immune boosting punch. A turmeric bug is combined with freshly squeezed lime juice, sugar and water and left to ferment for several days. Once fermented you can add more carbonation by fermenting a second time in a flip top bottle or fermenting jar. The possibilities are endless when it comes to flavor combinations.
For detailed instructions see Delicious Cancer-fighting Beverage: Turmeric Lime Soda.
2. Beet Kvass with Turmeric
Beet kvass is a wonderful cleansing tonic. Typically beet kvass is made with chopped beets, filtered water and salt. Whey is often used a starter. Why not substitute a turmeric bug for the whey? Add chopped turmeric as an added bonus. Ginger root may also be added to create an even richer flavor..
For detailed instructions see How to Make Beet Kvass.
3. Turmeric Gelatin
Once you find a turmeric beverage you enjoy, it’s simple to transform into a delectable gelatin treat. Whisk 2 cups fermented turmeric beverage (or turmeric bug) with 1.5 tablespoons Gelatin. (I prefer naturally derived gelatin sourced from grass fed cows.) Heat the mixture to allow the gelatin to dissolve thoroughly. Add honey or stevia for added sweetness. Pour into mold and refrigerate.
4. Turmeric Salsa
Use your turmeric bug as a starter for a variety of fermented foods – including salsa. Prepare 3-4 cups of your favorite salsa recipe. Place in quart mason jar. Add 3/4 cup turmeric bug. Stir. Add ¼ cup more turmeric bug and leave on top as added protection. Cover the jar and leave on counter for 2-3 days.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to fermenting turmeric. I add sliced turmeric root when making sauerkraut or kimchi. I make a fermented ketchup with tomato paste, spices and turmeric bug. I even combine my turmeric bug with tulsi hydrosol for a refreshing skin toner!
(We’ll consider other ways to integrate turmeric into your personal care routine in an upcoming post!)
With all of its medicinal properties, fermented turmeric offers a welcome addition to any kitchen.
How do you use turmeric in your cooking? Have you ever tried fermenting it?
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