Turmeric is a pretty popular spice that you might’ve used for cooking once or twice (or a bunch of times). It comes from the root of the Curcuma longa and has bright orange flesh. This flesh has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butter, and even cheeses.
Fresh turmeric roots, also called rhizomes, look very similar to fresh ginger root, which is a close relative. However, ginger root offers more of a sweet and spicy zing, while turmeric is the complete opposite.
Turmeric contains a lot of scientifically proven health benefits. Some include improved heart health and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and could potentially improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
Now that you know how beneficial turmeric root is, it’s only understandable if you’d want to preserve it to use for longer periods of time. So now we raise the question, can you freeze turmeric root? The good news is, yes you can!
Read on to learn more…
Can Turmeric Root Be Frozen?
Although it’s a root crop/spice, it’s good to know that you’re able to freeze it in order to expand its lifespan, which almost doesn’t seem possible. This is great because you only need to use a little sliver of grated turmeric for your dishes, as it’s very powerful, and you’re not going to always need it for everything you cook.
Freezing it will allow you to use it for longer periods of time without it going to waste.
Can You Freeze Turmeric Paste?
If you’re using a paste, or you’ve turned your root into a paste instead, you can luckily freeze that as well. Similar to the root, you’re usually going to have too much to use at once, so the best way to preserve the paste longer is to freeze it.
It will get hard since it’s a paste, however, you can always break it into small pieces and let it defrost as needed. If frozen properly, the paste consistency will be the same as it was before frozen.
How Long Does Turmeric Root Last?
If stored properly, raw turmeric will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
And if you’re storing it properly in the freezer, the turmeric root will extend its life to about up to six months.
However, if you keep turmeric in a cool, dry place, there are opportunities for turmeric to last for about 18 months. In some cases, even up to 2 to 3 years.
If you’re worried that the turmeric root has overstayed its welcome, then there are ways to tell if it has gone bad. Rub or crush a small amount of the root in your hand, then taste and smell it.
If the aroma is weak and the flavor isn’t as potent as it used to be, then the turmeric should be replaced. But don’t fret, because you can still eat the turmeric, it just won’t be as tasty in your dishes.
How to Freeze Fresh Turmeric Root
The first thing you have to do when freezing turmeric root is diligently clean and prepare it. Make sure you get any dirt and bacteria that may be still lingering off of the root. You can do this by scrubbing with some water and using either a scrub brush or fingertips. Once fully clean, dry them off with a paper towel.
The next is optional. It’s recommended that you cut the turmeric root up into smaller pieces, this way you don’t have to take out and defrost the whole root again, especially if you’re not going to use the whole thing. If you do choose to cut them, cut them into smaller, one to two-inch pieces that are large enough for a single portion, but small enough so you’re not wasting product.
Once you’ve prepared it, wrap the pieces together in a dry paper towel. This will allow it to absorb any extra moisture that was missed beforehand (we’re not saying you didn’t dry it properly, it’s just precautionary). After it’s wrapped up, place it into a freezer bag and make sure you get all of the air out before sealing it.
Make sure the turmeric is placed in the back of or in the depths of your freezer. If it’s too close to the freezer door, it may begin to defrost every time you open it. Turmeric defrosts quickly, so this could compromise the root’s integrity.
How to Freeze Turmeric Paste
If your turmeric is in paste form, it’s a little different than storing the root.
Scoop a spoonful of the paste into one cube of an ice tray. Do this until the ice tray is full of turmeric paste. Cover that tray with plastic wrap so nothing falls out or gets into the surface of the paste. Go ahead and store that away.
Putting the paste into sectioned cubes in an ice tray is a great way to portion your paste. This way you can preserve what you don’t need and only use the correct amount.
How to Defrost Turmeric Root
Although you can use turmeric root straight from the freezer by grating it, defrosting is a fairly easy process.
If you end up freezing the entire root, you’ll have to let it sit out for a few hours before use to ensure the whole root is thawed out. If they’re already in pieces, you can leave your desired amount out at room temperature and wait a very short period of time to defrost.
However, if you’re not a fan of waiting, you can simply peel and chop the turmeric while frozen. It’s just so easy it almost seems suspicious!
As for paste, you actually don’t have to defrost it unless you plan on using it in a cold dish. If you use it in a hot dish, you can easily pop a cube of paste out of the tray and drop it into the food. If you are using it for a cold dish, you can go ahead and take the desired cubes and place them into a bowl on the counter for about an hour or so.
Uses for Frozen Turmeric Root
Frozen turmeric is a great and simple ingredient to add into almost any recipe, especially when grating it straight from out of the freezer. Here are some ideas on how to use frozen turmeric root to make your dish extra tasty:
- Blend it in a smoothie: Adding a little bit of turmeric into your smoothie of other fruits and veggies is a great superfood, antioxidant boost. This will make for a great breakfast or mid-day boost.
- Chips and Dip: There are so many different types of dip, and turmeric can be used in many of them. For example, you can make a turmeric yogurt drip or tahini dip. You can also try incorporating it into hummus or vegetable dip.
- Turmeric Tea: Turmeric in a cup of hot water is a great herbal remedy. This is useful for its strong anti-inflammatory properties.
- Stir it Into Soups: A bit of frozen turmeric will melt nicely into soups, curries or casseroles. Stirring or mixing it up will give a nice extra bit of flavor into a hot dish.
- Curry: Turmeric goes so well with curry, so no matter which curry recipe you try, you may find yourself using a little bit of ground turmeric.
- Latte: Blend coconut milk with turmeric root paste, cinnamon and nutmeg for a latte with a good amount of spice. You’ll like it a latte (like “a lot,” get it?)