I wrote about ‘olena or turmeric almost exactly a year ago. We had just harvested some along with ginger and were processing it. And now a year later, here we are doing it again. So I’d say late January is the season for digging it up. You can tell when it’s time to dig up the root because the leaves of the plant start to brown and die. The ‘olena this year is particularly orange.
I did a little more research on this wonderful little root. Like breadfruit, it is a canoe plant, one of about two dozen or so plants brought to Hawaii by early Polynesians voyaging across the ocean in canoes. Surprisingly is it rarely found in the Islands today. I think this is starting to change, however, because I see it frequently in our local farmer’s market. It’s also fairly easy to grow and can be found at elevations as high as 3000 feet. Our farm is at around 700 feet above sea level. It tends to prefer shade, but we have ours growing in almost full sun. It is also able to tolerate heat well.
‘Olena means yellow in Hawaiian. It was traditionally used as a dye to color tapa cloth. In our home, we grow it primarily to use as a seasoning and for use in smoothies and in golden milk. The root is used medicinally, and it will be included as part of my medicinal garden. It has been used to treat consumption, tuberculosis, bronchitis, colds, earaches, sinus congestion, joint paint, arthritis, infections, and asthma. It is known to enhance the immune system, and is known well for its anti-inflammatory properties. I drink golden milk at night when my muscles are achy or I’ve worked out particularly hard. It also helps me sleep better. There are many recipes on-line for golden milk. You can use almost any kind of milk; I typically use soy or coconut milk. It also includes black pepper and honey, some people add cinnamon. To get the maximum benefit from turmeric it is important to pair it with black pepper. Black pepper improves turmeric’s bioavailability or in short, how your body absorbs this food nutritionally. Use about 1/2 a teaspoon of ground pepper for every 1/4 cup of turmeric. I keep a jar of it by my stove premixed. We toss it into stir fry, rice, eggs, and soups. Be creative, the more you use, the stronger the taste.
Hawaiians used it ceremonially as a purifier. It is believed to contain much mana, or divine power. Crushed ‘olena pieces were combined with salt water and were sprinkled around homes or around people who were sick in an effort to remove negative influences. The sprinkling of this preparation was done along with prayers or chants.
My sister-in-law and I prepped about 3/4 of the basket above for boiling. Once boiled, we will cool it, cut it in small pieces, and dry it. When dry, it will be ground into a powder. We will get about a gallon of dry turmeric out of the basket you see above. It’s quite the process, not difficult, but time consuming. In powder form, the turmeric keeps well in a glass jar. We still have some left from last year, although we’re almost out of it. Just time, for this new batch.
black raspberry scones with brown sugar glazed water apple
Today was a bit of a lazy day. I made scones this morning before we headed out to our local farmer’s market. Each week they have an informational session. It could be about planting landscape gardens, how to make fermented foods, or how rain is absorbed in different landcover. Today the lesson was about making reusable bags out of old feed bags. This was a no-sew bag using duct tape. See my bag below!!
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