Fresh Turmeric has Arrived

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The Fresh Organic Turmeric from Pinner Creek Organics in Hawaï has arrived! It is beautiful.
I previous posted several blogs on Turmeric & it is a good time to refresh your memory -& mine!

General info plus Miso Turmeric Soup Recipe : here
Turmeric Synchronicity: The Case of the Antioxidant Curcumin: here
Bright Yellow Yummy Pears:  here
A Refreshing Turmeric Beverage: here

More recipe to come. But meanwhile enjoy & Thank you Pinner Creek family!

Summer Tisane

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We are in the process of moving and boy! do we need restorative teas.  I like making my own brews and this is my latest concoction. It is very refreshing and soothing & it sure beats any store bought fancy ice teas. The healing qualities of the ingredients are a plus: turmeric is an antioxidant —see previous blog, star anis (badiane) will help with gastric conditions, ginger with nasal congestion & digestive problems,  and sage soothes upset stomachs, quiets the nerves, and helps with upper respiratory infections.

For one big teapot this is what I used:
1 finger of ginger
1 finger of turmeric
2 branches of sage
2 star anis
Boil water and pour over ingredients. Let it sit all night and the next morning strain it and put it in the fridge.
Alright, let me dive back into the packing madness — I might not blog for a few days, but soon I will be in my brand new kitchen! I am really excited about that.


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Turmeric Synchronicity: The Case of the Antioxidant Curcumin

Two of my most recent posts were about turmeric (curcuma) and today this piece was posted on the ASFS List server (Association for the Study of Food and Society) by Cara de Silva via Dana Jacobi. A very scientific article on the source of turmeric’s healing power finally uncovered in U Mich lab (American Chemical Society).

Determining the Effects of Lipophilic Drugs on Membrane Structure by Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy: The Case of the Antioxidant Curcumin

Jeffrey Barry, Michelle Fritz, Jeffrey R. Brender, Pieter E. S. Smith, Dong-Kuk Lee and Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy*
Biophysics and Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1055

Click here full article

Abstract

Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric powder, a natural spice used for generations in traditional medicines. Curcumin’s broad spectrum of antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic, and anti-inflammatory properties makes it particularly interesting for the development of pharmaceutical compounds. Because of curcumin’s various effects on the function of numerous unrelated membrane proteins, it has been suggested that it affects the properties of the bilayer itself. However, a detailed atomic-level study of the interaction of curcumin with membranes has not been attempted. A combination of solid-state NMR and differential scanning calorimetry experiments shows curcumin has a strong effect on membrane structure at low concentrations. Curcumin inserts deep into the membrane in a transbilayer orientation, anchored by hydrogen bonding to the phosphate group of lipids in a manner analogous to cholesterol. Like cholesterol, curcumin induces segmental ordering in the membrane. Analysis of the concentration dependence of the order parameter profile derived from NMR results suggests curcumin forms higher order oligomeric structures in the membrane that span and likely thin the bilayer. Curcumin promotes the formation of the highly curved inverted hexagonal phase, which may influence exocytotic and membrane fusion processes within the cell. The experiments outlined here show promise for understanding the action of other drugs such as capsaicin in which drug-induced alterations of membrane structure have strong pharmacological effects.

J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2009, 131 (12), pp 4490–4498
DOI: 10.1021/ja809217u
Publication Date (Web): March 3, 2009

Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society

Bright Yellow Yummy Pears

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While I was cutting my pear, the bright turmeric (see turmeric blog) yellow stain on the cutting board retained my attention and then an association of visual and cooking ideas occurred: “I have to try to poach pears with turmeric they must become bright yellow”. I was obsessed all day with what else to poach the pears with. Looking good what not enough it had to taste delicious and voilà! to my taste this is a very satisfying and beautiful result.

Bright Yellow Yummy Pears
2 firm pears
1/4 cup of honey
1 long lemon mayer zest (other lemon untreated will work)
2 star anis
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of freshly grounded nutmeg
1 small finger of fresh turmeric (curcuma), peeled and cut into pieces
1 or 2 tbsp of St Germain liquor (elderberry liquor)
a few dried Turkish unsweetened yellow prunes
enough water to cover the pears

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Peel the pears, keep the stem on, core it from bottom the best you can without damaging it -personally I do skip that step. In a sauce pan deep enough, so the pears can be immersed, place all the ingredients, lay the pears and add enough water to cover them. Bring liquid to a boil, lower the heat to a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes or until pears are tender but not too soft. Let the pear cool in their juices overnight.
Remove pears from the pan. Save the lemon zest and star anis for decoration, though you will eat the lemon zest, but NOT the star anis. Strain the liquid into a smaller sauce pan, bring it to a boil and let it reduce to about one cup of liquid -about 20 minutes-.
Serve chilled or warm. I like it both way depending of the weather or the time of the day. Can also be served with ice cream, a bed of custard, or brown rice for a healthy breakfast and that was my choice today.

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Turmeric / Curcuma

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It looks like ginger and belongs to the ginger family. The photo above is a fresh piece of turmeric root or curcuma longa, originally a plant native to Southern Asia and today mostly cultivated in India, China, Indonesia, Jamaica & Haiti. Anglophone countries call it turmeric, while Latin derived languages call it Curcuma and if you want to find out what it is in Chinese or other languages click here.

The word curcuma comes from the arabic khourkoum كم كر; though J.Favre, in the 19th century Dictionaire Universel de la Cuisine et de l’Hygiène Alimentaire, tells us that it comes from the Sanskrit kunkuma. Vijaata-kuGkuma in Sanskrit means *bastard saffron*. Turmeric is often referred to as cheap saffron, faux safron, indian saffron. It is its bright yellow dying agent that associates it with real saffron, but taste-wise one cannot replace the other. The *real* saffron is the stigma of the flower crocus sativa and one of the most pricey spices on the market.

Turmeric doesn’t have the sharp bite ginger has. A must for curry of course, but can be used in many other recipes. I have used it in lentil stew, lamb stew etc. Today I made a simple miso soup.

Miso Turmeric Soup

1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
1 carrot also finely chopped
1 piece of fresh turmeric
1/2 cup of see kelp
2 Tbsp of Miso

Sauté onions, carrots and turmeric in a sauce pan coated with olive oil. Add water, let simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile rehydrate your sea kelp. Add the sea kelp when they have softened. Add miso at the end. Serve with brown rice and kimchee. This is a very restaurative dinner.

Turmeric is known to be a potent healing rhizome; it has anti-oxidant & anti-inflammatory properties that are used in alternative medicine. There is an entire book on the subject that I just discovered: Turmeric and the Healing Curcuminoids by Muhammed Majeed.