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Turmeric The Golden Spices

Introduction to Turmeric

TurmericTurmeric (Curcuma longa), the ancient and sacred spice of India is a major rhizomatous spice produced and exported from India. Also called “The Indian Saffron” Turmeric, is truly an Indian Spice. It is used extensively in the preparation of all types of tasty curried dishes. It not only adds its typical flavour but also its colour, thereby helping to bring out the best in curried dishes. Turmeric is the basic ingredient in almost all curry powders and a major source of natural colouring for foodstuffs and pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications. The colour ingredient in Turmeric is known as Curcumin. The level of curcumin content varies in different varieties of Turmeric.

Spice Name Turmeric
Botanical Name Curcuma Longa L.
Commercial Part Used Rhizome
Calirofic Value 349 Kilo Calories
Important Flavour Compound Turmerone, Zingeberene, 1, 8-cineole

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Liliopsida
Subclass Zingiberidae
Order Zingiberales
Family Zingiberaceae
Genus Curcuma
Species C. longa

Turmeric Field at Erode

Foreign Names of Turmeric

French curcuma, saffron des Indes
German Gelbwurz
Italian curcuma
Spanish curcuma
Arabic kharkoum
Burmese fa nwin
Chinese wong geung fun
Indonesian kunjit, kunyit
Malay kunjit
Sinhalese kaha
Thai kamin

Turmeric Plant

Turmeric and INDIA

TurmericIndia is largest producer, consumer and exporter of Turmeric in the world. India accounts for about 80% of world production of Turmeric. Every year approximately 4 Lakh Tonnes of Turmeric is produced in India. Of this approximatley 40,000 Tonnes of Turmeric is exported. 90% of the Turmeric produced in India is consumed locally. Remaining 10% of the production is exported to varies countries like US, UK, Middle East, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Australia and other countries. Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh states in India constitute the lion’s Share in India’s Turmeric Production.

Varieties of Indian Turmeric

The main Turmeric growing states in India are Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharastra and Karnataka.

  • Tamil Nadu is known for its “Erode Turmeric”- Madras Turmeric
  • Tamil Nadu is known for its “Salem Turmeric”
  • Andra Pradesh is known for its “Nizamabad and Warangal Turmeric”
  • Kerala is known for its “Alleppey Turmeric”
  • Maharastra is known for its “Rajapuri and Sangli Turmeric”


Turmeric Crop Management

Turmeric can be grown in diverse tropical conditions from sea level to 1500 m above MSL at temperature ranging from 20 - 30 0 C with a rainfall of 1500 mm or more per annum. It is grown on different types of soils from light black, ashy loam, clayey loam and red soils. However, it thrives best in a well drained sandy or clay loam soils.

The land is prepared with the receipt of early monsoon in May. The soil is brought to fine tilth by giving about four deep ploughings. Weeds, stubbles, roots etc. are removed. Beds of size 1-1.5 m width, 15 cm height and of convenient length are prepared with spacing of 50 cm between beds. Small pits are made with hand hoe in the beds in rows with a spacing of 25 x 30 cm and covered with soil or dry powdered cattle manure. Planting is done by forming ridges and furrows. The optimum spacing in furrows and ridges is 45-60 cm between rows and 25 cm between plants. Turmeric can be planted during April- May with the receipt of pre monsoon showers. Whole or split mother rhizomes are used for planting. A seed rate of 2500 kg of rhizomes is required for planting in one hectare.

Cattle manure or compost at the rate of 40 tonnes per hectare is applied by broadcasting and ploughing at the time of preparation of land or as basal dressing by spreading over the beds to cover the seed pits after planting. Fertilizers at the rate of 30 kg N 30 kg P2O5 and 60 kg K2O per hectare. In areas low in major nutrient status fertilizer rate to be applied is @ 60 kg N, 50 kg P2O5 and 120 kg K2O per hectare. The beds are earthed up after each top dressing with fertilizers.

The crop is to be mulched immediately planting with green leaves at the rate of 12-15 tonnes per hectare. It may be repeated for second time after 50 days with the same quantity of green leaves after weeding and application of fertilzers. Weeding may be done thrice at 60, 120 and 150 days after planting depending upon weed intensity. Turmeric can be raised as mixed crop with chillies, colocasia, onion, brinjal and cereals like maize, ragi etc. In the case of irrigated crop, depending upon the weather and the soil conditions, about 15-20 irrigations are to be given in clayey soils and 40 irrigations in sandy loams. Shoot borer and rhizome scales are the major pests in turmeric. Leaf blotch, leaf spot and rhizome rot are the major diseases infecting turmeric.

The crops becomes ready for harvest in seven to nine months depending upon the variety. Usually it extends from January – March. The land is ploughed and the rhizomes are carefully lifted with a spade. Harvested rhizomes are cleaned of mud and other extraneous matter adhering to them. The average yield per hectare comes to 20-25 tonnes of green turmeric.

Post-Harvest Processing of Turmeric

The Post-Harvest Processing of turmeric consists of four stages.

Curing: Fingers are separated from mother rhizomes. Mother rhizomes are usually kept as seed materials. The fresh turmeric is cured for obtaining dry turmeric. Curing involves boiling of fresh rhizomes in water and drying in the sun. The traditional method of curing is as follows:

The cleaned rhizomes are boiled in copper or galvanized iron or earthern vessels with water just enough to soak them. Boiling is stopped when froth comes out and white fumes appear jigging out a typical odor. The boiling lasts for 45-60 minutes when the rhizomes are soft. The stage at which boiling is stopped largely influences the colour and the aroma of the final product. Over cooking spoils the colour of the final product while under-cooking renders the dried product brittle. The improved scientific method of curing turmeric is as follows:

The cleaned fingers / mother rhizomes are taken in perforated trough made of GI or MS sheet with extended parallel handle. The perforated trough is containing the raw turmeric are then immersed in a pan of water which can hold 3-4 troughs at the same time. Boil it till the fingers / mother rhizomes become soft. The cooked turmeric is taken out of the pan by lifting the trough and draining the water into pan itself. The same hot water in the pan can be used for boiling next set of raw turmeric. The cooking of turmeric is to be done with in 2-3 days of harvest.The rhizomes may also be placed in baskets with perforated bottom and sides and dipped in coveted tanks when the quantity is large or may be put directly into the vessels when the quantity is small. The mother rhizomes and fingers are generally cured separately.

Drying : The cooked fingers are dried in the sun by spreading in 5-7 cm thick layers on bamboo mats or drying floor. A thinner layer is not desirable as the colour of the dried product may be adversely affected. During night time, the material should be heaped or covered. It may take 10-15 days for the rhizomes to become completely dry. Artificial drying using cross flow hot air at a maximum temperature of 60 0 C is also found to give a satisfactory product. The yield of dry turmeric varies from 20-30 % depending upon the variety and the location where the crop is grown.

Polishing : Dried turmeric has a poor appearance and rough dull colour outside the surface with scales and root bits. The appearance is improved by smoothening and polishing the outer surface by manual or mechanical rubbing. Manual polishing consist of rubbing the dried turmeric fingers on a hard surface or trampling them under feet wrapped with gunny bags. The improved method is by using hand operated barrel or drum mounted on a central axis, the sides of which are made of expanded metal mesh. When the drum is filled with turmeric is rotated, polishing is effected by abrasion of the surface against the mesh as well as by mutual rubbing against each other is as they roll inside the drum. The turmeric is also polished in power operated drums. The yield of polished turmeric from the raw material varies
12-25%.

Uses of Turmeric

Turmeric is a unique, colourful and versatile natural plant product combining the properties as below:

As a Food Additive

Turmeric, by dint of its aromatic oil content, flavours foodstuffs, acts as an appetizer and aids digestion. Turmeric powder is used extensively in Indian cuisine. It is a significant Ingredient in most commercial curry powders. Turmeric is used in product systems that are packaged to protect them from sunlight. The oleoresin is used for oil-containing products. The curcumin/polysorbate solution or curcumin powder dissolved in alcohol is used for water containing products.

Turmeric has found application in canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurts, yellow cakes, biscuits, popcorn-color, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, gelatines, direct compression tablets, etc. In combination with Annatto it has been used to colour cheeses, dry mixes, salad dressings, winter butter and margarine.

As a Medicine

Turmeric is seen as an excellent natural antibiotic, while at the same time it strengthens digestion and helps improve intestinal flora. It's not only purifies the blood, but also warms it and stimulates formation of new blood tissue. Turmeric promotes proper metabolism in the body, correcting both excesses and deficiencies. It aids in the digestion of protein. It is tonic to the skin, for which purpose it can be taken internally as a milk decoction. Turmeric is aromatic and a stimulant and has many helpful functions. It is bitter, slightly pungent and a good blood purifier, and works as a tonic to aid digestion and relieve congestion. It has a soothing action on respiratory ailments such as cough and asthma. It also is anti arthritic and acts as a natural anti-bacterial.

Turmeric is exceedingly useful in the treatment of Meha (obstinate urinary disorders including diabates mellitus). Turmeric is beneficial in the treatment of measeba. Stimulates secrtion of bile, anti inflammatory, eases stomach pain, antioxidant and anti bacterial. When applied to skin and exposed to sunlight, turmeric is strongly antibacterial. Turmeric improves the action of the liver and is a traditional remedy for jaundice in both Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicine. To ease liver complaints and ulcers turmeric is used. Turmeric is aromatic, mild digestive and in Asian countries it is taken to ease liver complaints and stomach ulcers. In India, the powdered rhizome is commonly administered as an agent that rids the body of parasitic worms.

Used as a cleanser

Pharmaceutical preparations are Haridra-khand, chandraprabha-vati, laghuvis-garvataila, pippalesav, punarnava mondus, sudarson churna, videngadi lep. A fresh Juice from the rhizome or a paste prepared from turmeric or decoction is often used as a local application as well as internally in the treatment of leprosy, snake bite, vomiting associated with pregnancy and the offlicluis of liver. In case of smallpox and chickenpox, turmeric is applied as a powder or as a paste to facilitate the process of scabing.Turmeric powder is alum powder are mixed in a proportion of 1 to 20 and this is blown in to the ear which is having a chronic discharge or otorrhoea. It is used by the Unani practitioners to expel phlegm or kapha, opening out the blood vessels to improve blood circulation.

Recent studies have shown that turmeric can be effective in fighting a number of STDs including chlamydia and gonorrhea. Investigations into the low incidence of colorectal cancer amongst ethnic groups with a large intake of curries compared with the indigenous population have suggested that some active ingredients of turmeric may have anti-cancer properties. Curry Pharmaceuticals, based in North Carolina, is studying the use of a curcumin cream for psoriasis treatment. A recent study involving mice has shown that turmeric slows the spread of breast cancer into lungs and other body parts, but also enhances the effect of taxol in reducing metastasis of breast cancer.

As a Dye

Turmeric paper is an official reagent in British Pharma Copoea for testing Alkalinity. A diluted, tincture of turmeric is suitable for use as a fluorescence indicator even in brown and yellow solutions. Turmeric is an anti-oxidant, due to the phonemic character of Curcuma.

As a Cosmetic

Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of some sun screens. Turmeric paste is used by Indian women to keep them free of superfluous hair. The Government of Thailand is funding a project to extract and isolate tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC) from turmeric. THCs are colorless compounds that might have antioxidant and skin lightening properties and might be used to treat skin inflammations, making these compounds useful in cosmetics formulations.

Nutritional Composition of Chillies

Composition USDA Hand Book 8-2” ASTA”
Water (g) 11.36 6.0
Food Energy (kcal) 354 390
Protein (g) 7.83 8.5
Fat (g) 9.88 8.9
Carbohydrates (g) 64.93 69.9
Ash (g) 6.02 6.8
Calcium (g) 0.182 0.2
Phosphorus (mg) 268 260
Sodium (mg) 38 10
Potassium (mg) 2525 2500
Iron (mg) 41.42 47.5
Thiamine (mg) 0.152 0.090
Riboflavin (mg) 0.233 0.190
Niacin (mg) 5.140 4.8
Ascorbic Acid (mg) 25.85 50
Vitamin A Activity (RE) Trace Not Detected

© 2006, Lanco Spices