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Turmeric facts for kids

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Curcuma longa - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-199.jpg
Curcuma longa
Scientific classification
C. longa
Binomial name
Curcuma longa

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice, widely used in Asian cooking. It is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae.

How it grows

Turmeric plants are widely grown in tropical areas of India, where over 70,000 acres are cultivated every year. The plant has long leaves, surrounding spikes where small flowers form. However the root, or ‘rhizome’ of the turmeric plant is harvested, in much the same way as ginger. The turmeric rhizome takes about 10 months to grow before it can be harvested; it is then boiled, cleaned and dried in the sun. Most of the harvested turmeric is ground up and sold in jars for use in cooking, however the fresh root turmeric can also be used.

How it is used

Turmeric is one of the main ingredients of curry powder, and is used to give it the characteristic yellow colour. It is also delicious added to rice dishes, seafood, and mustards and pickles. Turmeric is also more widely used as a colourant for textiles and food products. It is sometimes substituted for saffron as it is much less expensive, but produces the same yellow colour. Turmeric has also been used as an alternative to medicine and can be made into a drink to treat colds and stomach complaints. Faulty genes are responsible for causing cystic fibrosis. A regular intake of turmeric can be helpful in treating a patient afflicted with this condition.

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