When fresh turmeric started appearing at the local produce market here in San Francisco, it was a revelation worlds away from the powdered stuff in the cabinet. The many uses of this root are only starting to really be discovered in my kitchen, but experimenting comes at a high cost: difficult-to-remove stains on my fingers. Fresh turmeric ranges in color from pale gold to screaming orange, and it's not the most flattering look. In addition to staining your skin, it also has a nasty habit of adding peach tint to fingernails.
(Note: These methods work for powered turmeric stains, too!)
The 3 Methods I Tried
Nils Bernstein, the food editor of Wine Enthusiast, suggested two methods that work for him when working with turmeric: baking soda with just enough lemon juice to make a paste or a vinegar and sugar scrub.
I also spoke with Ranjan Dey, the chef and owner of San Francisco's 30-year-old New Delhi Restaurant, who almost laughed when I asked him for his recommended method for cleaning turmeric stains off his fingers. "Wear gloves!" he said, alluding to the fact that these stains should just be avoided in the first place. Dey also went on to suggest a mix of lemon juice and water with a drop of food-grade bleach.
I tried all three methods on separate occasions — here's how it went.
Baking Soda + Lemon
The baking soda is super fun because it foams and fizzes before settling down into an easy scrub. Two good scrubs followed by soap and water and my fingers were basically as good as new. There wasn't so much lemon juice that it burned my paper cut, and the scrub left my fingers feeling soft and refreshed.
Vinegar + Sugar
The vinegar and sugar scrub was less successful here and extremely painful on a new paper cut (note to self: be more careful with paper!), but it did eventually do the trick after about three cycles.
Lemon Juice + Water + Food-Grade Bleach (The Winner!)
This combination, followed by a good ol' soap-and-water rinse, is the formula that ultimately works best. (But be warned that the juice could burn any open cuts!)
Try any of these techniques and you'll be feeling clean and cute in no time — unless you prefer to rock turmeric as the hot new manicure shade.
Do you have any tips for removing turmeric stains from your fingers?