I am in love with a naturally sweet drink that helps protect against winter’s chills and ills. No alcohol, chocolate or extravagant calories are involved, just two spices revered since ancient times and fresh apple cider.
Sipping cider spiced with ginger is a familiar way to comfort body and soul. Adding turmeric to it is what makes this drink super special.
Super is the perfect word for turmeric. This finger-shaped, vividly orange-fleshed cousin of ginger has impressive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers. It also has an earthy, slightly peppery and bitter taste that is foreign to most non-Asians; if you are Indian or from Southeast Asia, turmeric’s unique taste is part of your everyday flavor vocabulary from its use in curries, stir-frys, dal and stews.
This steaming cider is a good introduction to enjoying fresh turmeric. Look for fresh turmeric at your local natural food stores, including Whole Foods Markets as well as Asian markets. Buy just one or two little fingers of turmeric, along with a piece of fresh ginger. At home, use the edge of a spoon to scrape off an inch or so of the thin, beige skin, exposing the turmeric’s electric orange flesh. Enjoy its faintly citrus aroma as you grate it into the cider. Do the same with the ginger; then heat the turmeric and ginger with cider and inhale deeply while sipping this spicy drink from a deep mug.
If only ground turmeric is available, pick one that looks more orange than mustard yellow as deeper color indicates better quality. Use 1/4 teaspoon of the ground turmeric in place of fresh. The sediment it will leave in your mug does not matter.
But do be careful handling turmeric. Because it stains seriously, peel the fresh root over a paper towel then wash your hands after grating it or you may have faintly yellow fingers. Measure ground turmeric over a paper towel so any spills don’t stain the counter.
Now think about adding turmeric to winter squash soup, salad dressings for beans, rice, lentils, or potatoes, and beat a pinch in with eggs to scramble. Eating a little bit often, you will get used to the unique taste and enjoy turmeric’s benefits.
Ginger and Turmeric Cider
- 1 cup fresh sweet apple cider
- 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp. grated fresh turmeric
- 1½- inch by 1/2-inch strip lemon peel white part included
In small saucepan, combine cider, ginger, turmeric and lemon peel. Over medium-high heat, heat until ring of bubbles appears around edge of pan, 3 minutes. Cover pan and set aside to steep for 5 minutes.
Pour hot-spiced cider through fine tea strainer into mug. Serve immediately.
Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.
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Photographs by Heather Victoria Photography