ZEDOARY: WHITE TURMERIC

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CURCUMA ZEDOARIA

 

Zedoary – better known as wWHITE TURMERIChite turmeric – is not exactly like the golden foundation of the curry we know and love, though it is a turmeric variety which means it belongs to the family curcuma. In fact, the rhizomes are almost identical to zingiber officinale. Zedoary is said to carry a flavor that’s similar to the ginger as well, but with a slightly bitter aftertaste. It can be used to create spices, perfumes, massage oils and cosmetics. Let’s put this beauty under the microscope.

ZEDOARY: HOW I MET WHITE TURMERIC

I can’t recall an encounter with zedoary while growing up in Jamaica, though it is quite possible with all the time I spent in the wild. It was not that long ago that an Indian colleague introduced me to an Indian market in our area, thinking I’d find authentic spices and oils that would pique my interest. I was browsing through the refrigerated items and found what appeared to be ginger. As I was sorting through a few select pieces, an employee walked over and asked if I was looking for ginger. When I confirmed his suspicions, he was happy to provide clarity. I’d been looking at white turmeric. He was kind enough to show me to the ginger basket but the white turmeric lingered in my thoughts. You know what I did, right? Research. I wanted to learn all I can about this strange zedoary thing and today, I’m happy I did. I started growing my own and I’ve got to share how rewarding the experience is with you guys.

PLANTING

WHITE TURMERIC

Zedoary makes an excellent ornamental plant, even in smaller spaces. That’s something I know most of us in colder regions can appreciate as you can keep your white turmeric pot in a small space like your kitchen windowsill or next to the shoe rack in your tiny New York apartment. While most of the more familiar and commercially cultivated turmeric varieties produce golden blooms that peep from between bracts of pink and white, there are others that range in colors from orange to pink, to indigo, to violet, to a deep plum. You can see zedoary’s gorgeous buds of sunshine popping out from beneath the folded bracts of violet, pink, green and white. The white turmeric’s pleasantly fragrant and shiny, broad leaves hang gracefully. The ability to grow, thrive and produce in small spaces – coupled with the lovely flowers – make for not only a rewarding ornamental, but a great conversation piece that’s also useful.

CARE

White turmeric plants behave similarly toZEDOARY their relatives, zingiber (Jamaican ginger). Broad leaves that appear as larger bear leeks (allium ursinum) emerge from a central stem in fountain-like folds that hang gracefully outward. The plants, however, are much shorter than the zingiber and do not grow to be much taller than two feet. They prefer partial shade with filtered sunlight in an area protected from strong winds. To keep the rhizomes healthy, plant your turmeric in rich, breathable soil. If your soil is heavy, mix in a generous portion of sand, sawdust and wood chips to create some breathability. You may water generously if your plants are in the ground and the water is able to run off but do not leave your soil waterlogged, especially if your plants are potted. This can lead to root rot and we do not want that. It is also good to allow the soil to dry a little between watering.

If you live in colder regions and your plants are outdoors, the foliage will die back at the cusp of winter. You can harvest your zedoary and use them however you like. Just remember to save a few rhizomes for planting next spring. You can wrap them in an old newspaper and keep them in the bottom of the refrigerator until you’re ready for planting. They will remain fresh for months. When you’re ready to put them back in the ground, soak your white turmeric in a bowl of water for 24 hours. In another three months you can have fresh zedoary rhizomes for your household once more.

HOW DO WE GET FROM HARVEST TO SPICE?

…So how does a white turmeric rhizome transform into powdered spice? It’s actually a very simple and easy process if you’d like to try it at home. It’s also a great project you can get your whole family involved in. Children love seeing how something they helped create can be useful. After harvesting your rhizomes, rinse them thoroughly in a bowl of cool water. Under water, rub them between your fingers to shake all the soil loose. Discard your water and repeat the rinse with clean water as many times as necessary until your water is clear when you pour it off. You can dry your zedoary rhizomes in a clean kitchen towel. I like to use a white towel because white turmeric tends to stain and whites are easy to bleach and I don’t have to worry about ruining a color or pattern.

You can then cut your rhizomes into thin slices and dehydrate. Some of us may use a dehydrator tray, your oven or the sun. Once dry, you can crush the pieces and grind them by hand, with a blender, or food processor until powdered. I like to keep my turmeric and ginger powder pure. I simply mix in other spices as I’m cooking or making drinks but if you’d like to really make your powdered spice interesting, you can add other dried spices like ground thyme leaves, basil and dried peppers. You can store your freshly made spice in a mason jar in your kitchen cabinet. It’ll take years to expire and does not need to remain refrigerated. It’s also a terrific gift idea I you’re not the one hosting thanksgiving dinner this year.
OTHER USES

Zedoary produces a chemical we call curcumin that is used in medicine and coloring for health, cosmetic and artistic purposes. Curcuma plants are also becoming a more widely accepted way of treating skin conditions like acne, rashes or dry skin. I stumbled upon this article that included recipes for a turmeric face mask for both dry and oily skin types that I hope you guys find enlightening and useful. I’ve tweaked it to add a little activated charcoal and aloe for my skin treatment and it works! White turmeric is also an excellent alternative to the golden turmeric the recipe calls for because it doesn’t stain my nails. Zedoary oil can also be used in perfumes, aromatherapy,  massages and skin treatments and as I said, to aid in reestablishing healthy, supple skin.

ZEDOARY: BENEFITS

White turmeric has been used in treating arthritis, heartburn, joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, bypass surgery, hemorrhage, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, infections, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disorders, diabetes, water retention, worms, high cholesterol, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, and fatigue. It has also been applied for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, inflammation, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, itchy skin, topical pain, ringworm, sprains and swellings, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, acne, inflammatory skin conditions and skin sores, soreness inside of the mouth, infected wounds, gum disease and some cancers. Share your thoughts on health with your health care provider. I was fortunate to have one who was and still is a strong believer in Mother Nature’s ability to heal without the side-effects that medication can bring in the trunk. I hope your efforts prove just as fruitful. Happy gardening!

WHITE TURMERIC: ZEDOARY FLOWER

JAMAICAN TURMERIC – LIFES’ GOLDEN SPICE

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Who knew curry came from the powdered root of a gorgeous ornamental plant? Did you? Well, there’s much more to discover about the turmeric plant, its’ uses, benefits, habits and history. Wait until you learn how amazing the golden spice of life really is!

 

 

 

TURMERIC | CURRY & I

The Jamaican turmeric is known by locals as tambric. In fact, that’s the name I grew up hearing so even now when I ask my grandmother to procure fresh rhizomes from her garden I have to ask for tambric or she’ll be lost. I wasn’t introduced to the term turmeric until after I’d moved away as an adult but rest assured, I was fully aware of its potent curry flavor; its’ gorgeous white flowers with tips tinged in pink perfection and golden buds of sunshine popping out from beneath the folded petals; the pleasantly fragrant and graceful, shiny, broad leaves. Yet, there was so much more I was ignorant of.

One of the saddest realizations I’ve had about the land of my birth is that it’s a country swimming in treasures; It’s a hefty slice of the Garden of Eden – a potential pinch of Utopia… but why is this saddening? It is so because we do not know it. Jamaica is brimming with a host of rare, exotic, tropical, breathtakingly beautiful, ornamental, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich, superfood, heirloom treasures that are jam-packed with benefits and until recent years, locals have been – for the better part – oblivious to how blessed they are to be born and raised on Paradise Rock. While curry is a staple of the Jamaican kitchen cabinet, most West Indians don’t actually realize that turmeric can be used for so much more than flavoring and food coloring. Nor do they know just how helpful consumption can be to the overall wellness of the body.

 

PLANTING

Turmeric makes an excellent ornamental plant, even in smaller spaces. That’s something I know most of us in colder regions can appreciate as you can keep your turmeric pot in a small space like your kitchen windowsill or next to the shoe rack in your tiny New York apartment. While most of the more familiar and commercially cultivated turmeric varieties produce blooms of pink and white petals, there are others that range in colors from orange to pink, to indigo, to violet, to a deep plum. The ability to grow, thrive and produce in small spaces – coupled with the lovely blossoms – make for not only a rewarding ornamental, but a great conversation piece that’s also useful.

 

CARE

Jamaican turmeric plants behave similarly to their relatives, zingiber (Jamaican ginger). Broad leaves that appear as larger bear leeks (allium ursinum) emerge from a central stem in fountain-like folds that hang gracefully outward. The plants, however, are much shorter than the zingiber do not grow to be much taller than two feet. They prefer partial shade with filtered sunlight in an area protected from strong winds. To keep the rhizomes healthy, plant your turmeric in rich, breathable soil. If your soil is heavy, mix in a generous portion of sand, sawdust and wood chips to create some breathability. You may water generously if your plants are in the ground and the water is able to run off but do not leave your soil waterlogged, especially if your plants are potted. It is also good to allow the soil to dry a little between watering.

If you live in colder regions and your plants are outdoors, the foliage will die back at the cusp of winter. You can harvest your turmeric and use them however you like. Just remember to save a few rhizomes for planting next spring. You can wrap them in an old newspaper and keep them in the bottom of the refrigerator until you’re ready for planting. They will remain fresh for months. When you’re ready to put them back in the ground, soak them in a bowl of water for 24 hours. In another three months you can have fresh turmeric for your household once more.

 

HOW DO WE GET TO CURRY?

…So how does a turmeric rhizome transform into curry powder? It’s actually a very simple and easy process if you’d like to try it at home. It’s also a great project you can get your whole family involved in. Children love seeing how something they helped create can be useful. After harvesting your rhizomes, rinse them thoroughly in a bowl of cool water. Under water, rub them between your fingers to shake all the soil loose. Discard your water and repeat the rinse with clean water as many times as necessary until your water is clear Turmericwhen you pour it off. You can dry your turmeric rhizomes in a clean kitchen towel. I like to use a white towel because turmeric tends to stain and whites are easy to bleach and I don’t have to worry about ruining a color or pattern.

You can then cut your rhizomes into thin slices and dehydrate. Some of us may use a dehydrator tray, your oven or the sun. Once dry, you can crush the pieces and grid them by hand, with a blender, or food processor until powdered. I like to keep my turmeric powder pure and mix in other spices as I’m cooking but if you’d like to really make your curry powder interesting, you can add other dried spices like ground thyme leaves, basil and dried peppers. You can store your freshly made spice in a mason jar in your kitchen cabinet. Curry takes years to expire and does not need to remain refrigerated. It’s also a terrific gift idea I you’re not the one hosting thanksgiving dinner this year. Turmeric has also been used for eons to flavor cheeses, butter and mustard.

 

OTHER USES

 

If you’ve ever held a natural turmeric rhizome then I’m sure you’ve noticed the bright orange pigment. That is because of the presence of a golden chemical we call curcumin that is used in medicine and coloring for health, cosmetic and artistic purposes. Turmeric is also becoming a more widely accepted way of treating skin conditions like acne, rashes or dry skin. I stumbled upon THIS article that included recipes for a turmeric face mask for both dry and oily skin types that I hope you guys find enlightening and useful. Turmeric oil is also sometimes used in perfumes, massages and skin treatments and I said to aid in reestablishing healthy, supple skin.

BENEFITS

Turmeric has been used in treating arthritis, heartburn, joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, bypass surgery, hemorrhage, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, infections, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disorders, diabetes, water retention, worms, high cholesterol, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, and fatigue. It has also been applied for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, inflammation, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, itchy skin, topical pain, ringworm, sprains and swellings, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, acne, inflammatory skin conditions and skin sores, soreness inside of the mouth, infected wounds, gum disease and some cancers. Share your thoughts on health with your health care provider. I was fortunate to have a one who was and still is a strong believer in Mother Nature’s ability to heal without the side-effects that medication can bring in the trunk. I hope your efforts prove just as fruitful. Happy gardening!

 

turmeric

 

 

 

 

ALLIUM VINEALE: CROW GARLIC UNVEILED

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WHAT IS AN ALLIUM, YOU ASK?

Allium is tALLIUM VINEALE MY EXOTIC SECRETS CROW GARLIChe family to which scallion, onion, chives (onion and garlic), ramsons, shallots and leeks belong. They’re short, bulbous plants the yield hollow, straight leaves that give the plants a grass-like appearance. If left to flower they also produce gorgeous pom-poms of varying colors that are also fragrant and often reminiscent of bachelor buttons which makes them excellent ornamentals. In some varieties, flowers emerge from these pompoms in a chandelier-like fashion. They’re gorgeous!  They’re not invasive and they thrive in small spaces so they’re good choices for gardens with a small bed, pot or edging. Allium also serve a purpose in the garden. They’re natural insect and pest repellent because of their strong garlic or onion scent.

 

ALLIUM IN THE JAMAICAN HOME

Edible alliums are essential to Jamaican cuisine. We love the flavors they emit. They’re unique and prized and cannot be mimicked by any other family known to mankind. Mark my words, there isn’t a Jamaican kitchen without scallions, garlic or onions at the ready. Garlic chives are especially commonly cultivated among Jamaican farmers. Our people have creative ways of incorporating garlic in dishes that will caress your taste buds and blow your mind! However, the chives we’re about to dissect is not common in Jamaica. Crow garlic chives (also known as wild onion) bear similar leaves to the garlic and purple onion chives most of us are familiar with. If you’re a plant lover with a 2-inch pot, and a tiny square box for an apartment, this plant is perfect for you!

 

ALLIUM CANADENSE MEADOW CANADIAN GARLIC MY EXOTIC SECRETS

ALLIUM VINEALE: USES

Crow garlic is very similar to allium canadense with a few exceptions. Like most allium, crow garlic plants are easy to grow, low maintenance, high yielding plants that thrive in a tight space and are easy to control and contain. They serve several purposes. The plants themselves don’t grow to be taller than about 18 inches. They are interesting to look at with tall, thin, straight, vivid green leaves and gorgeous, violet to plum-colored pompoms. These pompoms full of seeds, open up to release fragrant bright-green tendrils. The whole ensemble averages an inch in diameter. They’re beautiful ornamentals and you don’t have to worry about pests being interested in eating down your chives. Because of their strong garlic aroma, the plants are natural insect and pest repellents. You can use your crow garlic or any edible allium to border your garden to deter pests and critters. We use them to border the perimeter of our greenhouse along with allium canadense (meadow onion). To date, we haven’t had any visits from critters with sticky fingers.

 

CULLINARY USES OF CROW GARLIC

ALLIUM VINEALE MY EXOTIC SECRETS CROW GARLIC

The last and most obvious of the noteworthy uses for this versatile plant is culinary. The flavor can make such a big difference is your soups, salads,

meats, fish, rice, pasta, sandwich, sauces, biscuit, buns, bread and other dishes. You can blend them into your sauces, especially when preparing fish and meats. Try this easy meat marinade recipe with a dash of Caribbean flavor

that we’ve shared with you. If you think that’s amazing, wait until you know how beneficial this can be for your body! Try to experiment with the flavors of all the allium in your garden by swapping some of the more common onion varieties out in your recipes.

 

ALLIUM: HEALTH BENEFITS

If you’re one of those expecting mothers who think you need to be chowing on oranges and pills to ensure adequate intake of folate, firstly congratulations! Secondly, allium plants are excellent sources of natural folic acid. 100g of fresh leaves is just 30 calories! That 30 calories is jam packed with many flavonoid antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals like pyridoxine, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, carotenes, zeaxanthin, lutein, and so much more. Together, they work to strengthen the immune system and protect the body from different types of cancer.

 

ALLIUM PROTECTS YOUR HEART & BRAIN

Allicin decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide and brings a reduction in the total blood pressure. It inhibits platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels which helps decrease an overall risk of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular diseases, and stroke. It reduces the production of bad cholesterol and makes your liver very happy. They’re also found to have strong antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

 

ALLIUM & BONE HEALTH

 

Just 70 grams of allium provides the daily recommended intake of Vitamin K, which has a potential role in bone health by ALLIUM VINEALE MY EXOTIC SECRETS CROW GARLICpromoting bone formation and strengthening activity. Adequate vitamin K levels in the diet help limit neuronal damage in the brain which shows an established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Handling allium in general, may result in mild irritation to skin, mucosa, and eyes but to a greater extent with other members like an actual onion. A gas known as allyl sulfide is released while chopping or slicing them. As always, you’re encouraged to experiment with your dishes and enjoy the ride. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions below.