Turmeric root is one of the most underused yet versatile spices that can be used in practically every dish. However, this spice is not necessarily used in large amounts, but since they are used daily in some parts of the world, they are also used within a day or two. So, what is really the shelf life of turmeric? Does turmeric root go bad?
Spices that are stored in the fridge can still go bad, especially when not packed properly. Leaving turmeric root without cover or proper container could still lead to microbial growth and molds.
In this post, we will be answering these important questions that you may have in mind:
So, read on…
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric, known as the golden spice, is a highly pigmented yellow, ginger-looking root crop. It is a famous spice made from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, which is mainly grown in Southeast Asia.
The common active ingredient found in the turmeric root is called “Curcumin,” which aids various chronic diseases. Its rhizome (underground stem) is utilized in traditional medicine and used as a culinary spice.
There are more than 30 different types of varieties of turmeric found in India. (*) The following are just a few of them:
- Nizamabad Bulb
One of the best things about this spice is that it is very diverse that it is basically a common ingredient to every dish. Turmeric is very flavorful and aromatic. It is used to flavor and color curry powders, mustards, butter, and cheeses.
Furthermore, it is also commonly used as herbal medicine as it has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and potential cancer-fighting properties. (*)
Turmeric is also often used to treat osteoarthritis. It’s also used for hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, a form of liver illness, and itching, but most of these so-called claims aren’t backed up by scientific research.
Does Turmeric Go Bad? How Long Does Turmeric Last?
Like all fresh produce, turmeric is considered a perishable good, and it has a shorter shelf-life.
Fresh Turmeric Root
For your fresh turmeric, thoroughly wash them and eliminate all the excess roots and dirt. You can keep them fresh when you store them in an airtight container or reusable bags.
You can keep them for 2 weeks in your fridge. However, it is still best to use them within a day or two to get their best flavor. If you want to keep them longer, it’s possible as well!
Just slice up your turmeric, wrap them using food-grade plastic wrap and store them in your freezer. It will last for months!
Dried or Ground Turmeric Root
Dried turmeric or ground turmeric is created from dehydrating fresh turmeric root, and just like any other commercially and/or homemade dried spices, it does not really go bad. It can last up to three to four years, as long as it is stored properly. Its aroma and flavor properties may fade, but it does not spoil.
In general, the shelf life of your ground turmeric will depend on how well you kept it in storage.
How to Know If Turmeric Has Gone Bad?
First, you need to know what fresh turmeric should look, taste and smell.
A good turmeric root is bright, firm in texture, and slightly moist. When inspecting, take note of the following visual appearances:
- The peel looks basically old and wrinkly.
- The texture is soft and mushy.
- There is browning and discoloration.
- Dark spots are formed.
- Appearance looks too dry.
If your turmeric roots possess any of these unpleasant characteristics, that’s a sign that you should discard them.
As for powdered turmeric, they actually do not spoil. They only lose their potency and taste when stored for a long period. One way to know if your turmeric powder has already started losing its attributes is by ‘palm-testing.’
Dot it by simply rubbing a pinch of powder into your palm, then assess its aroma and flavor. If it’s less aromatic and it no longer has a strong bitter-y taste, then you might need to double your usages.
How To Store Fresh Turmeric Root Properly?
After going through the fresh market, and spending hours looking for the best spices at the best price, you finally noticed it’s already lunchtime!
Then getting home, you didn’t realize how much turmeric you bought. And now you struggle with how to keep them fresh!
Here are our tips on how to store fresh turmeric roots properly:
- Remove any dirt on the outer skin of the fresh turmeric roots with a tiny brush before storing it. Clean it vigorously, or you can use your fingers to remove any earth that has stuck to it.
- Scrape off all unnecessary stringy roots and peel off all those leftover soils.
Cleaning before storing is crucial, regardless of where your turmeric root originated – from your local grocery shop, your own indoor garden, or wherever you got them.
Additionally, since the rhizomes can be fairly gnarly, you have to be careful to clean them properly.
When it comes to storing dried or ground turmeric, all you have to do is to keep it in a cool, dark, and dry space to keep it away from direct heat and sunlight.
The best storage area is in a pantry or a dark cupboard. Putting them in the window-sill spice makes them more prone to heat and sunlight exposure, which can reduce your turmeric’s shelf life.
Comparative Analysis: Refrigeration vs. Room Temperature
When it comes to storing fresh turmeric root, you have two primary options: refrigeration or room temperature storage.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each method:
- Pros: Storing turmeric root in the fridge helps extend its shelf life by slowing down microbial growth. The cold temperature inhibits bacterial and fungal activity, preserving the freshness for a longer duration.
- Cons: However, refrigeration can lead to moisture condensation, which may cause the turmeric root to become damp. Excess moisture can promote mold growth and degrade the quality of the root if not stored properly.
- Pros: Storing turmeric root at room temperature allows it to retain its natural firmness and texture. The absence of moisture condensation eliminates the risk of dampness, ensuring the root stays dry and fresh.
- Cons: On the downside, turmeric stored at room temperature may have a slightly shorter shelf life compared to refrigerated turmeric. The warmer environment can accelerate microbial growth, especially in humid conditions.
Considering these factors, the optimal storage method depends on your specific circumstances. If you live in a humid climate or anticipate a longer storage period, refrigeration might be the preferred choice. However, if you have a consistently cool and dry environment, storing turmeric root at room temperature can be a viable option.
Remember, regardless of the method you choose, always ensure proper cleaning and storage techniques to maintain the freshness and quality of your turmeric root.
To provide further guidance on the best storage techniques, we reached out to Chef Sarah Thompson, a culinary expert known for her innovative use of spices.
According to Chef Thompson, “Properly storing fresh turmeric root is crucial to maintain its flavor and quality. I recommend placing the cleaned turmeric roots in an airtight container with a piece of damp paper towel. This creates a humid environment that helps preserve their freshness. Store the container in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator for optimal results.”
Frequently Asked Questions:
Wait, we’ve got more to teach about this wonderful spice blend! Learn more about Tumeric from these frequently asked questions:
Turmeric is a diverse root crop that is widely known in the Southeast Asia region. This plant is mainly grown in India and is one of its native produce.
Turmeric root has many uses. Since it’s a versatile spice, it is commonly used in different areas – as a culinary spice, medicinal herb, supplement, and even food colorant. Thus, the need to prolong its shelf life is reasonably necessary. Storing it properly will help preserve its freshness and properties.
Remember, to get that strong, aromatic “earth-feel” taste for your dish, fresh turmeric is best consumed within a day or two.
And well, for your dried turmeric, just keep them in airtight containers to preserve its taste and aroma.
As a reminder to our dear readers, foodborne illnesses are associated with spoiled foods. We strongly recommend you practice food safety as you enjoy your foods while it is fresh!