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Yeti101

Mystery Turmeric

Question

I recently was given these rhizomes as Turmeric - Curcuma longa, though the person who gave me this gift probably didn't concern themselves with botanical names. All i know is that it was given to them as Turmeric.

At a glance I do not think that this is the classic Turmeric - I've bought it fresh before and I expected the skin to be less ginger-looking and it to be much more orange, both inside and out (it's actually a bit more pale than the photos show. Apparently it's growth habit and flower are very similar to C. longa .

The freshly cut rhizome smells a lot like fresh Turmeric, but not quite the same. It has a similar taste to fresh turmeric, but not as strong and there is a hint of starch - like raw potato.

I only recently realized that there were many varieties of Curcuma longa, so I'm not sure if this is a different variety or a different species altogether. If it were a different species, I was thinking perhaps Curcuma aromatica?

Anyone have any ideas?

I'll post some more pics as they grow a bit bigger.

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Tum2.JPG

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There are two distinctly different plants getting around in Aust under the name of turmeric.

the one that you have in the pic here ( let's call it yellow turmeric),

and a darker, orange one , turmeric... The real deal...Curcuma longa.

The yellow one is a slightly bigger plant with a slightly heavier textured

and more deeply corrugated leaf.

its also a more vigorous and higher yielding grower,

so naturally that is the one that's gonna increase its presence in nurseries,

gardens and fruit n veg shops.

it tastes very similar and is used in the same way from a culinary and medicinal perspective ,

but I do much prefer the orange one.

 

ive been trying to get to the bottom ot it since years before the Internet 

and eventually gave it a rest since moving to a colder climate ...

Out of the range where it's easy to grow

For a long time was of the belief ( and still slightly suspect) that it is a different species,

but I've heard some people insist that it's a different strain of C.longa.

Anyway, keep an eye out for the one with the deep Orange rhizome.

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I think some galangal can be that colour, not sure of the taste/smell myself as I've never used galangal :)

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Don't think it's Galangal, but thanks anyway :)

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You would know if it's galangal! lol (not taking the piss, its just strong). I'm curious about this. I love growing all sorts of tubers.

Galangal makes a nice tea though.

If you ever grow a big bunch of it, let me know and I could buy some off you.

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I think I've seen both the varieties you're talking about (the pictured yellow one, which a friend grows, and the orange one which you usually find as fresh turmeric root in shops) but didn't realise there were different species - I assumed they were both just varieties of longa. Now reading about C. aromatica, I think I was wrong and that might be what my friend is growing. It's been interesting reading about it anyway! For instance, I had heard the term "white tumeric" and assumed they were talking about this yellowish one, just because it's paler than the typical bright-orange turmeric (you know, like "white grapefruit"). But no, apparently there is actually a species which has white rhizomes. Another, C. caesia "black turmeric" has rhizomes which stain blue!

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Thankyou for the interesting question, sorry I couldn't help with the ID.

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Yeah, would love some of that black tumeric - didn't know it stained blue!

Anyway, maybe by the time it's dormant in winter I'll have id'd it and can pass some on to people.

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Completely forgot to take any pics when it was growing/flowering, though I do now have at least one massive rhizome (only remembered this as I was re-potting while it's still dormant - haven't checked those in the ground). Confusingly, the flowers were nothing like C. aromatica - not pink at all - much more like C. heyneana or C. Longa, or a pale C. australasica. In other words, when it comes to ID-ing this, I've not made much progress.

Will have to remember to take some photos this year :blush:

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Hey Yeti,

This happened to me, I was advised by a little old lady at the local markets (the kind of person that knows those kind of things..);

You need to break up the rhizome at a younger age. If the plant flowers it loses colour and taste, you need to harvest more regularly then ginger (which you can basically grow on and harvest anytime its desired...). Larger clumps of tumeric need to be broken up and replanted to maintain maximum colour. This is why you never see it for sale in large clumps.

Now I have full coloured tumeric from the same rhizome stock.

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Thanks MountainGoat, I'll break up some rhizomes and leave others intact - then compare at the end of the season.

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I also planted into better soil. They were in heavy clay and are now in prepared beds. It also makes it a bunch easier to harvest, though the bush turkeys love it in nice soft soil....

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