I have a gold mine in ʻōlena

11 12 2016
Turmeric from my garden

Turmeric from my garden. Hawaiians call it ʻōlena.

ʻōlena.  Turmeric (Curcuma domestica), a kind of ginger; used medicinally and as a source of dyes  . . . —Pukui and Elbert

Today’s harvest yielded this bounty of ʻōlena, or turmeric. I had planted some a few years ago, and this year it produced gorgeous flowers. Then the flowers died back, and it dawned on me that it was time to harvest the rhizome.

I first paid attention to ʻōlena during trips to Kahoʻolawe, where ʻōlena water was brought from Maui and used for cleansing altars and in the spiritual ceremonies.

In more recent years I learned that besides uses in cuisine, turmeric is a healing herb that guards against inflammation in our bodies. Sautéing with black pepper in cooking and combined with other food provides benefits. We can add this to our diet on a regular basis.

When I had a spell of pain in my wrist, I chopped up some fresh turmeric into a poultice and applied it with plastic wrap to hold it in place. The ʻōlena was very cooling to the skin and I felt better.

Most recently a friend who is taking care of a cancer patient volunteered to help harvest my plants. When someone asks for healing, I must oblige. I was grateful to have my friend remind me that an answer to healing was right under my nose in my own garden. Harvesting is something I have been meaning to do.

This afternoon I cut back the tall foliage, and DH helped to dig out this crop with a pitchfork. We left some in the ground so it will continue to grow.

I plan to share the bounty, make some powder, and freeze the surplus.

Mahalo e ke Akua!

 

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