How to counteract too much turmeric in a recipe? (5 ways)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How to counteract too much turmeric in a recipe”. We will discuss different ways that will help you counteract too much turmeric in a recipe. 

How to counteract too much turmeric in a recipe?

If you have mistakenly added too much turmeric in a recipe and are searching for ways to solve the problem, no need to worry, here we have prepared a list of different ideas which you can try to fix too much turmeric in a recipe. 

  • Dilute it with more of the recipe’s ingredients
  • Dilute with coconut milk
  • Physically remove some of the turmeric powder
  • Add an acidic component
  • Add something sweet

Global turmeric output is projected to reach 1.5 million metric tonnes by 2027. It has been reported over the period 2020-2027 that the “International Turmeric Industry” will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 3.9 percent. An average 4 percent CAGR is expected to be recorded by a few of the divisions analyzed in the report and reaches 1 million metric tonnes even by the end of the analysis duration (1).

Different ways to counteract too much turmeric in a recipe

Turmeric imparts an extremely bitter taste to a dish. So, a pinch of turmeric should be added at a time. Stir and taste each time and add more as required. You usually do not need more than a pinch of turmeric to benefit from its useful characteristics, brilliant colour and a mild, smoky, citrus-like flavour and odour. The bitter and pungent taste of turmeric would be attributed to the presence of secondary metabolites (2).

However, if you feel some bitterness in your dish and you suspect you have added far more than the recommended amount, you can try the following tricks to solve the problem.

Dilute it with more of the recipe’s ingredients

You can quickly fix excess turmeric by adding more of the other ingredients, everything apart from the turmeric. You can add more chicken stock, extra oil, extra water, and everything that makes up the base of your recipe.

If the recipe required you to use half a tsp of turmeric, and you used one tsp mistakenly, you can quickly fix it by doubling up all the other ingredients. 

This will help to bring the dish back in line with your recipe’s flavour balance, ultimately saving your dish. 

This method has the added benefit of making an extra amount which you can separate and save for another day. 

You may have to re-season your recipe with some herbs and fresh spices after diluting to have a well-balanced flavour.

If you are not sure how much you have added, you will have to check the taste. Add a small quantity of the other ingredients and taste. If the turmeric flavour is still extremely bitter, add some more of the ingredients. Keep increasing gradually until the recipe reaches the required flavour.

Bitter taste can be caused by more than 1000 different molecules of totally different structures, which themselves do not cause the bitter taste, but activate the receptor molecules which are on the receptor cells’ exterior. Neurotransmissions send the information through a complicated network of neuron fibers to the cerebral nerves. Most taste receptors cells respond to several taste qualities. Recent investigations describe the role of TRPM5 (transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily M, member 5) in taste transduction. It plays a key role in the perception of sweet, umami and bitter tastes (3). Therefore, adding other ingredients with different taste characteristics will reduce the bitterness perception caused by the bitter compounds in the turmeric.

Dilute with coconut milk

Turmeric is most commonly used in curry dishes or other recipes that have a South Asian touch. Coconut milk is usually used in this style of cooking. If your dish is from this part of the world, coconut milk may be a fair addition whether the recipe calls for it or not. 

In addition to the dilution of the spice, coconut milk also helps to reduce some flavours including the bitterness that might result from too much turmeric.

Coconut milk is an oil–protein–water emulsion, is used in many cuisines and is a healthy alternative to milk for lactose intolerant vegans worldwide. In addition to lipids, it contains sugars (5), which contributes to the bitterness masking. Oils and lipids effectively increase the viscosity in the mouth and coat the taste buds, and therefore they are potential taste masking agents (4). 

Physically remove some of the spice

If you get to know that you have added too much turmeric to your recipe before you start stirring all your ingredients together, you might be able to easily scoop out all of the turmeric powder and start all over again. Although this strategy will waste some of your turmeric powder, it will let you preserve the other ingredients.

However, if you have added extra turmeric to a liquid dish, you can decrease its concentration by extracting a portion of the liquid. You can then add more water, stock or other liquids. 

Mix in something acidic

If the recipe you are making is in an Indian or another South Asian cuisine, you can add one of that region’s common tart ingredients to the dish. 

Among the acidic ingredients, you can add mango powder (also recognised as amla powder), tamarind paste and/or tamarind powder. 

Other ingredients include tomato sauce. The high acidity of these components may help to offset or divert from the bitter taste caused by an excess amount of turmeric.

Turmeric contains essential oils which gives the spice its characteristic taste (2). Studies show that the off-flavors caused by high amounts of essential oils in the food formulation could be masked when an apple-lemon juice blend was incorporated, because of the presence of fruit acids, such as citric and malic acid (6).

Add something sweet

One of the frequently proposed fixes, when you are trying to neutralize a bitter taste, is to add a sweetener. Sugar gives a well-balanced flavour profile, thus regarded as a good choice for saving your dish. While this may not go well for every dish including turmeric, it can work with some recipes. 

Sweeteners and flavors are generally being used along with other taste-masking techniques to improve the efficiency of these techniques. Using sweeteners is the most common and effective way to mask bitter compounds (4). As mentioned above, the mouth receptors that perceive bitterness are the same for the sweetness sensibility. By adding a sweet ingredient in the food, both sweet and bitter compounds will compete and suppress each other (3).

You will also want to deal particularly when sugaring any dish that would typically not have a sugary component. Add sugar gradually, tasting after every addition to make sure that your meal does not get extra sweet. You want just enough to counteract the bitter taste of turmeric.

Other FAQs about Turmeric that you may be interested in.

What do you put turmeric in when cooking?

What’s a good substitution for turmeric?

Can I mix turmeric with cumin?

What is healthier turmeric or cumin?

Conclusion 

In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “How to counteract too much turmeric in a recipe”. We have discussed different ways that will help you counteract too much turmeric in a recipe. 

References 

  1. Sahoo, Jyoti Prakash, et al. The golden spice turmeric (Curcuma longa) and its feasible benefits in prospering human health—a review. Am J Plant Sci, 2021, 12, 455-475.
  2. Christine, Ekissi Alice, et al. Study of the Knowledge of Turmeric Curcuma longa) and Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in the Region of Daloa (Côte D’Ivoire). Am J Plant Sci, 2021, 12, 1328-1337.
  3. Schönberger, Christina. Bitter is better. Monatsschrift für Brauwissenschaft, 2006, 3, 56-65.
  4. Sohi, Harmik, Yasmin Sultana, and Roop K. Khar. Taste masking technologies in oral pharmaceuticals: recent developments and approaches. Drug develop ind pharma, 2004, 30, 429-448.  
  5. Pandiselvam R, Kaavya R, Martinez Monteagudo SI, et al. Contemporary Developments and Emerging Trends in the Application of Spectroscopy Techniques: A Particular Reference to Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.). Molecules. 2022, 27, 3250. 
  6. Yen, Philip Pui‐Li, David D. Kitts, and Anubhav Pratap Singh. Natural acidification with low‐pH fruits and incorporation of essential oil constituents for organic preservation of unpasteurized juices. J food sci, 2018, 83, 2039-2046.