White turmeric resembles ginger in its shape and size. Each rhizome, or underground stem, is multi-branched with nearly transparent, pale-brown skin that will darken with maturity. Each rhizome and off-shoot can measure anywhere from 5 to 12 centimeters long. The flesh is a pale ivory to light yellow and has an aroma that combines unripe, green mangoes and ginger with the earthiness of a carrot. White turmeric has a bitter flavor and has a mild pungency very similar to ginger.
White turmeric is used in its raw form as well as in powdered form. In India, fresh "mango ginger" is washed and peeled and then cut or sliced into strips and pickled or sliced into thin rounds and served atop green salads. In Indonesia, white turmeric is cut into pieces and dehydrated, oven or air-dried and powdered for use as a dried spice. In larger quantities, the powder is used as a substitute for arrowroot or barley. In Thailand, young roots are used as a vegetable and in curry pastes. Fresh white turmeric can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The peeled root can be frozen for up to 6 months.
White turmeric is available in the spring and through the fall months.