Turmeric Paste by Adam James

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1 Serving

Turmeric Paste by Adam James

Categories > Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Gut Health, Sugar Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

(Image: Adam James)

The following recipe is from Sandor Katz’s “Fermentation Journeys” by Sandor Ellix Katz (Chelsea Green Publishing, October 2021) and is reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Over the course of two decades of publishing and teaching, Sandor Katz* has traveled the world, learning how different people transform food through the art of fermentation. We spoke with Katz recently about his new book and his journey as a fermentation revivalist.

Part cookbook, part travel memoir, part food history, “Fermentation Journeys” includes recipes for everything from home-brewed sake to Colombian hot chocolate to Nigerian spinach stew.
Here he shares a recipe with Nutritious Life from the new book for fermented turmeric paste.

The creative guru behind this recipe is Adam James, a fellow fermentation expert and mastermind behind Rough Rice in Tasmania, off the coast of mainland Australia.

While this recipe is really simple in its execution, it is not a quick, one-and-done task. But fermentation never is. The joy of this recipe is in waiting and watching fermentation happen.

You begin by creating a pickling medium. In this case, using turmeric root, garlic, turnips, salt and water, all blended into a thick paste. The paste is then fermented in a crock for about a month.

Once the paste is fermented, you have your matured pickling medium to which you then add your veggies of choice. This recipe calls for daikon, turnips, carrots and celery, but feel free to get creative with your version!

Once you’ve added your vegetables to the pickling medium, they should ferment for at least a week or for as long as a month, depending on your preference and just how tangy you’d like them to taste. It’s the perfect immune-boosting salve for the long winter ahead, don’t you think?

For this recipe, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • Food processor or immersion blender
  • Jar or crock with at least a 2-quart/2-liter capacity, with an interior and/or exterior lid

The resulting recipe will yield about 1 ½ quarts of turmeric paste.

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1 Serving


14 ounces turmeric root

10 ounces garlic cloves, peeled

14 ounces Hakurei or other small, tender turnips

3 tablespoons salt (roughly 4% percent weight of turmeric, garlic, and turnips)

About ¾ pounds vegetables (daikons, turnips, carrots, celery, or others) to pickle once the pickling medium is mature



  1. Using a food processor or an immersion blender, grind the turmeric root, garlic cloves, Hakurei turnips, and salt with just enough water (roughly 2 cups) to form a thick paste.
  2. Ferment the paste in a jar or crock for about a month, stirring periodically. For best results, protect the surface of the paste from air with an interior lid or a layer of plastic.
  3. After a month or so, the paste should be active enough to start using as a fermentation medium. Simply submerge the whole vegetables. Turnips and daikons work really well since they are not too dense.
  4. Depending on the temperature, the size and density of the vegetables, and how vigorous the medium is, the vegetables should be fermented in about a week; however, I often leave mine for a month or even longer. The resulting pickles take on the intense yellow (another reason why white vegetables are good), shrivel slightly due to water loss, and have a wonderful acidic and earthy crunch.


In “Fermentation Journeys,” Adam James shares his zingy recipe for turmeric paste and his passion for all things fermented. Excerpted from the book, James dispenses below what he loves most about the paste, and all the wild and wonderful ways it can be incorporated into other recipes, or eaten simply on its own.

From Adam James: This paste itself can be used on its own: as a condiment (great with mussels and oysters); as a base for a salad/vegetable dressing (thin with olive oil, water, and a dash of rice vinegar); as an excellent addition to fire ciders and fermented hot sauces; or made into my possible all-time favorite curry paste, by simply cooking it down with fresh puréed ginger, then adding a tin or two of coconut cream and some good (preferably homemade) fish sauce and fresh lemon or lime. I also use it as a base for brown rice congee that I serve at the farmers market. It’s also a fantastic addition to shio-koji for an intense, “fresh” hit of zingy umami.

Be sure to check out James’ Rough Rice  and Katz’s Instagram accounts for more inspiration.

*Sandor Ellix Katz, is a self-taught fermentation experimentalist who lives in rural Tennessee. He is the author of two best-selling books: Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation (winner of a James Beard Award in 2013). Through hundreds of fermentation workshops he has taught around the world, he has helped catalyze a broad revival of the fermentation arts. Sandor and his work have appeared on NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, PBS, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, and numerous other national and international media.

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