If you want pure turmeric powder, try making it at home.
It takes a little time and patience but you will have turmeric powder to last you for years.
And the powder has a deeper color and stronger taste. You will notice the difference between homemade vs store-bought.
What you need to make turmeric powder
There is only one ingredient needed to make turmeric powder: fresh, organic turmeric rhizomes. Nothing else goes into the powder.
Since I’m from the Caribbean and in a warm tropical climate, I grow turmeric in my kitchen garden.
It is incredibly easy to grow – just bury a small rhizome in some soil and water it often. A couple weeks later, it will sprout and take a year to grow fully.
It will flower (turmeric has white flowers) and then all the leaves will dry and die. The rhizomes will push themselves to the surface and that’s the time to harvest. If you don’t harvest the rhizomes, they will chill until you do – they don’t spoil or anything in the soil. And if you miss a few pieces of the turmeric in the soil, expect new plants to grow from them.
Here’s a look at my turmeric plant getting close to harvest time.
How to turn fresh turmeric to powder
To make turmeric powder from fresh turmeric, you need to wash, peel and grate the turmeric rhizomes, dry either in the sun or the oven and then grind fully. That’s it in a nutshell.
PSA: Wear gloves when handling turmeric – they will stain your hands and clothes.
Prepare the turmeric rhizomes
Step 1: When buying fresh turmeric from the supermarket or farmers’ market, the rhizomes tend to be cleaner than when you harvest them yourself. I often have to wash and scrub them a bit to get all the dirt out after harvesting, but you likely won’t need to do this. Instead, you can simply rinse them out.
Step 2: Peel them using a vegetable peeler or knife (I’ve used my fingernails sometimes, but I won’t recommend doing that).
Step 3: Grate the peeled rhizomes on the fine side of a grater. Grating breaks up the turmeric into tiny strands which dry much faster in the sun and in the oven. Thicker slices will take longer to dry. You can also consider using a food processor or blender to break the roots down.
Now, this is how to make turmeric powder without boiling. Some do boil the rhizomes as a form of sterilization and to remove the earthy flavor from the powder, but prewashing the roots, peeling the skin and drying the turmeric completely are enough for me.
Dry the turmeric
There are three ways to dry the turmeric: sunlight; an oven; or a dehydrator.
Being in the Caribbean, I can spread the grated turmeric out on metal trays and place them in the direct sun to dry. It can take anywhere from four hours to all day for the turmeric strands to dry out completely. It all depends on how hot it is.
Step 4: When the weather is rainy, I often use the oven for drying the turmeric. Place the trays or baking dishes in the oven and set it to the lowest setting (about 150°F). Leave to bake for about an hour or so. Remove from the oven and give everything a little stir so the wetter strands at the bottom can be brought to the top. Place the dish back in the oven and leave for another hour. After the second hour, give the turmeric another stir.
Step 5: The turmeric should be almost dry by now so add it back to the oven and bake until crispy (about half an hour more should be enough). Remove from the oven and allow to cool down.
As for a dehydrator, follow the instructions and leave the turmeric to dehydrate until fully dry.
Step 6: Once fully dry, add the turmeric in batches to a coffee or spice grinder. Grind until the turmeric becomes powdery.
Step 7: Sift the powder and regrind any large pieces.
Step 8: Store the homemade turmeric powder in the fridge. It can stay for one to two years in the fridge. You can also take small batches out and keep them on the countertop at room temperature. It will last for a couple months there.
How to make turmeric powder
How to make turmeric powder
- Spice grinder
- 500 g fresh turmeric
- Wash and peel the turmeric roots.
- Grate the peeled turmeric.
- Add to a baking tray.
- Dry in the oven at 150°F (or place in the sun to dry for a day).
- After an hour in the oven, stir and leave for another hour.
- After the second hour in the oven, stir again.
- Bake until the gratings are completely dry and crisp.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Add the crispy turmeric to a spice grinder.
- Grind completely.
- Regrind larger pieces.
- Place in an airtight container.
- Store in the fridge for years (or on the countertop for months).