Health Tip From The Magic Gardener

Many of you may have wondered what that outrageous flower is that graces the front of this blog. Well, it is called Olena in Hawaiian, but you probably know it by its popular name, Turmeric. It is highly revered in both Hawaiian and Ayurvedic healing. The Hawaiians call Olena one of the 5 warriors, which are the herbs that go in and fight off infection or any dis-ease in the body (more on this later).

Ayurvedic, which is the India methodology of healing, sees this herb as one with far reaching capabilities. So much so that it is recommended to be eaten at each meal. It is the herb that gives curry its wonderful golden color.

It grows similar to ginger, but, the plant is bigger and the root is smaller. The root resembles the knuckles with fingers spreading out. It is measured in this way, one finger, two fingers, etc. Unlike finicky ginger, Olena grows quite prolific in a warm spot with ample water. Not too much water, we don’t want it to rot. It has big spreading leaves and that gorgeous flower at its peak. You may break off any one of the fingers and plant it in the ground, or, even in a fairly large pot, and it will sprout in no time.

Because it is quite bitter you only need to use a little bit at a time. So, that brings up the question of what is the best way to store this humble looking root. Left at room temperature, it tends to shrivel up and dry out and lose it vitality. Left in the refrigerator for too long and it will mold and dry-up. The best way I have found is to put it in a plastic bag and freeze it. Then, when you are ready to use some in your curry or soup just take it out and micro-grate it into the mix. Don’t thaw it out. You need the hardness of the frozen root to be able to grate it. You can pop the rest back in the freezer for further use.

One of my favorite qualities of this divine plant is its extraordinary coloring effect.
Not only your curries become that bright yellow, but soup and stews take on a glorious golden glow. I also love to grate it into rice which transforms it into a special treat as it colors it a yummy butter yellow. You might call it the poor man’s saffron. Of course, it loves to color your fingers, counters, and cutting boards too, so just be aware of that when working with it.

You can also buy it powdered at any health food or Indian grocery, and to my knowledge it has the same effect. But, in my opinion, there is quite a bit of difference in its aliveness.

So, go ahead give it a try. The next time you see this root, Olena/Tumeric, and you give it a little scrape with your finger and this bright orange gold color is revealed, pick one up and start to experiment. Remember to put one finger in your garden, one in a flower pot, and put the rest in the freezer to reserve for the cooking pot.

You won’t be sorry, and the heath benefits are enormous, including, as the Indians say, immortality!

See you there!
marissa, the magic gardener
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