Fermented turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, and the fermentation process makes the compounds more bio-available than regular turmeric.
Turmeric gets a lot of attention in natural health circles for its anti-inflammatory properties, but for maximum benefit, the turmeric must be fermented. Natual probiotics help to make the anti-inflammatory compounds more bio-available, which means you get the most possible benefit.
There are a number of fermented turmeric supplements on the market, namely this one from My Kind Organics that my doctor recommended when I was having some joint pain. The problem is, they’re pretty expensive, and I decided to make my own fermented turmeric.
Fresh turmeric itself is expensive too, selling for around $20 to $25 per pound. We happen to grow turmeric at home in containers and have for years.
It’s prolific, and we harvest it by the bucket load, so making fermented turmeric at home just makes sense.
(If you don’t grow your own turmeric or have access to it at a local organic grocery, you can buy a box of fresh turmeric root online for this project.)
How to Make Fermented Turmeric
The book Fermented Vegetables has instructions for making fermented turmeric paste starting with:
- 1/2 pound fresh turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
(You can also use equal parts fresh ginger and turmeric for a mixed ferment with both flavors included.)
Gather your ingredients and start by chopping the turmeric into manageable pieces. If you’d like, you can peel the turmeric, but I’ve had better results leaving the turmeric unpeeled.
The peels are a natural source of the cultures used in this ferment, and it doesn’t get off to as vigorous a start without them.
That said, peeling the turmeric results in a cleaner flavor, and the peels can have a bit of off-flavor.
If you choose to peel the turmeric, I’d suggest inoculating the ferment with a tablespoon of sauerkraut juice, fresh yogurt whey, or the contents of a living probiotic capsule. (I’ve used these probiotic capsules as a starter in the past with success.)
Pulse the mixture in a food processor until it’s pureed into a paste. Then press the mixture into a small glass jar. This recipe should make a 1/2 pint, but you can double it for a pint jar.
The turmeric will release liquid which should cover the solids in the puree. Anything above the liquid brine is likely to mold and spoil, so you’ll need to keep everything submerged.
Use a glass fermenting weight or a ziploc bag filled with water to hold everything under the brine.
A water lock is optional but helps ensure success. I’m using a mason tops silicone water lock kit, which also comes with glass fermentation weights so you have everything you need to get going in a wide mouth mason jar.
Allow the turmeric paste to ferment for 5-10 days at room temperature.
Once fermentation is complete, remove the water lock and tamp the turmeric paste down to ensure it’s below the brine. Cap with a regular lid and store in the refrigerator.
Properly fermented turmeric paste will keep for 12+ months in the refrigerator. Be sure to use a clean implement to scoop out spoonfuls when you go to use it so you don’t contaminate the jar.
I use fermented turmeric anywhere I’d use regular turmeric, and you can dollop a tablespoon into a homemade curry for a burst of flavor.
We’re especially fond of it for making golden milk chai with a spoonful or two of turmeric, and then a bit of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and honey.
Other Ways to Make Fermented Turmeric
The method described above makes lacto-fermented turmeric, which encourages the same microbes that are responsible for yogurt and sauerkraut. You can also ferment turmeric with other probiotics for very different results.
Instead of adding salt (which promotes lactic acid bacteria), you can add a tablespoon or two of honey or sugar. That’ll promote yeast-based fermentation, generating a small amount of alcohol, but still fermenting the turmeric to both help preserve it and make the anti-inflammatory compounds more bio-available.
Looking for more ways to keep your kitchen bubbling?
- How to Make Sauerkraut
- How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar
- How to Make Small Batch Wine
- How to Make Mead (Honey Wine)