ingredient information
Turmeric Extractives
Marco Polo, writing of his travels in China, reported: There is also a vegetable which has all the properties of the true saffron, as well as the color, and yet it is not really saffron. It is held in great estimation, and being an ingredient in all their dishes, it bears, on that account, a high price. He was referring to turmeric, called Indian saffron in medieval times. Like saffron, turmeric is a powerful coloring agent. In the United States, it was imported and classified principally as a textile and leather dye until the development of aniline dyes in the 1930s. U.S. turmeric consumption has increased. Part of its growing demand stems from the fact that it is an effective natural colorant; making it especially attractive to food manufacturers. Additionally, it is being used more often as a flavoring. What is turmeric? Turmeric comes from the roots of the perennial plant, Curcuma longa, which thrives in hot, moist tropical climates with well-drained soils. A member of the ginger family, it has long, lance-like leaves that shoot up from the rhizome to a height of 2 to 3 feet. The root consists of a central rhizome with numerous short fingers branching off from it. The roots outer color is brownish-yellow, but may be lighter or darker, according to variety. The flesh inside the root is yellow to orange-yellow. When the root is dried and ground, the powder is yellow with an orange tint. Turmeric is propagated from root cuttings; eight or nine months after planting, the roots are ready for harvest. Once harvested, they are cured  boiled in water or mild alkali. This procedure reduces drying time and gives the turmeric a more uniform color. The curing process differs in the various producing areas, but essentially, it is a combination of cooking and sun-drying. Turmeric is not an aromatic spice. It has a mild odor and slight peppery flavor. A mixture of three polyphenol pigments synthesized in the plants rhizomes produces turmerics yellow hue. This collection of pigments commonly is called curcumin, and consists of curcumin (the dominant pigment), demethoxy curcumin, and bis- demethoxy curcumin. Turmeric extractives Curcumin delivers turmerics coloring strength. About 20 lbs. of dried turmeric root yields 1lb. of curcumin. Extraction is done overseas and in the United States, so there are imported, and domestic turmeric extractives found in the American market. Turmeric oleoresin is the solvent extract of dried, ground rhizomes  the yield is about 10% to 12%. Oleoresin turmeric is available as-is, or may be mixed with solvents to make it either water- or oil-dispersible, or dispersible in both. The oleoresin also is available coated onto various dry carriers or as spray-dried product, making it easier to handle. A crystalline curcumin material may be refined from the oleoresin with a hydrocarbon solvent. This and certain other types of curcumin preparations provide coloring power without the characteristic turmeric flavor. Extract The distilled or evaporated oils of foods or plants (such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, bark, buds, roots, leaves, meat, poultry, seafood, fish, dairy foods, or eggs) that are dissolved in an alcohol base or allowed to dry to be used as a flavoring. Food extracts as they are often labeled, are used to add a concentrated flavor to many food dishes, especially baked goods and desserts, without adding additional volume. Available in solid (cubes, granules or powdered), liquid or jelled form, extracts may be labeled as pure, natural or artificial. Pure and natural extracts are governed by laws in many countries that require compliance with procedures that take the extract ingredients directly from the named flavor, such as extracting oils directly from the vanilla bean to make pure or natural vanilla extract. Artificial extracts are flavors that do not necessarily use any ingredients directly from a source named for the extract but instead used combinations of ingredients to arrive at a flavor representative of the named food extract, such as artificial lemon extract. Some of the most widely used extracts include vanilla, almond, anise, maple, peppermint, and numerous solid or jelled extracts such as beef and chicken bouillon or meat demi-glaces. As an example of how the pure and natural extract is made, vanilla extract is created by soaking vanilla beans in water and an alcohol-based solution where it ages for several months, during which time the vanilla flavor is extracted from the bean. Anise extract, a sweet licorice tasting flavoring, is produced by dissolving the oil of anise seeds into alcohol. Grape extract is produced to assist with the wine making process. Compounds from the skin of grapes are extracted and added to the wine in order to impart tannin, color, and body into a wine. The characteristics of the wine can be changed dramatically by the amount of time the wine is in contact with the skins. If the grapes are in contact for too long, the resulting wine may be too potent, or what is sometimes called “over-extracted�. Juices of fruits and vegetables are often extracted as juice extracts to be used similar to other food extracts, as a flavoring when preparing foods. A common utensil for the purpose of extracting lemon juice is available to assist with home recipes requiring a lemon flavoring.