The Unexpected Turmeric Trick You Have To Know

Contributing Food Editor By Liz Moody
Contributing Food Editor
Liz Moody is a food editor, recipe developer and green smoothie enthusiast. She received her creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody is the author of two cookbooks: Healthier Together and Glow Pops and the host of the Healthier Together podcast.
The Unexpected Turmeric Trick You Have To Know

Image by Nataša Mandić / Stocksy

It's no secret that we love turmeric here at mbg. It's one of the most anti-inflammatory foods around, and it tastes delicious in detox shots, lattes, and cooking oil. It has a gorgeous, eye-catching yellow color that creates both cravings and good content for Instagram.

There's only one problem: That same color stains. If you've been in the wellness world for a while, chances are you have at least one turmeric-stained item in your possession. It was a problem I faced for years, after I quickly discovered that no amount of dish soap or detergent was enough to lift the stubborn yellow.

I discovered the solution on a sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands. I, to none of my travel companions' surprise, had located an organic farm on one of the islands and provisioned our ship with fresh produce, including a gorgeous bagful of fresh turmeric root. We ate stir-fries and drank smoothies and felt like our best selves—until we noticed how much of the (very expensive) boat we'd rented was stained a rich yellow. I spent close to 24 hours panicking, Googling every solution under the sun while my dad lectured me about losing his deposit. Just before we were packing up the boat to leave, an Australian sailor from a nearby catamaran popped his head in our boat. Seeing our panic, he asked what was going on.

"Everything is stained," I said, on the verge of tears. "It's going to cost thousands of dollars."

"Aw, no way," he said. "Just open up the windows. The sun makes turmeric go away like that." He snapped his fingers.

Desperate, I flung open the windows and placed cutting boards and cushions (yes, it was everywhere) out on the deck. Within an hour, the turmeric was mostly faded. Within three hours, it was all gone.

The science behind the miracle was relatively simple: The main compound in turmeric, called curcumin, breaks down relatively quickly and easily when exposed to sunlight. The trick works for anything: clothes, dish towels. My friend even put her whole white kitchen table out on the balcony after I taught her the trick.

The trick's efficacy is also a good reminder to keep your turmeric (and all of your spices) in a cool, dark cabinet, away from sun exposure. The curcumin that causes the stains is the same compound that accounts for much of turmeric's health benefit. When it breaks down before you consume it (as it does so readily in the sun), you don't actually get to reap those benefits. So keep your turmeric in the dark—unless it's on your white items, in which case, thrust them into the light!

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