Fresh Turmeric vs. Dried Turmeric

Here's your quick introduction to turmeric.

Turmeric, the dried root (rhizome) of a plant in the ginger family, is most familiar as the spice that gives curry powder its yellow color; earthy, slightly bitter flavor; and touch of gingery heat. More supermarkets are stocking fresh turmeric, so we wondered how it compares to the more common dried ground version.

We compared rice pilaf, bread-and-butter pickles, and smoothies made with fresh and dried turmeric, substituting 3 parts fresh for 1 part dried. The fresh turmeric brought brightness and complexity to the smoothie, but it was difficult to differentiate from dried when heated for pilaf or pickles.

The takeaway: We'll save the fresh stuff for raw applications and use dried when we're cooking. If you buy fresh turmeric, you can refrigerate it for three to four weeks in an airtight container or zipper-lock bag to keep it fresh.

Two tips for working with turmeric: A spoon makes quick work of removing turmeric's thin skin, while a rasp-style grater breaks it down in a flash.

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