Turmeric has many health benefits and when you use turmeric powder in your cooking, you know you should use a high quality one. Unfortunately, this condiment is often adulterated and unscrupulous manufacturers may add chalk, yellow soapstone, starch, artificial dye, metanil yellow (a toxic coloring agent), lead chromate (a neurotoxin), salts and others additives to make more profit.
Whether you use this yellow powder as a matter of course in your foods, or to avail of its many health benefits, you really don’t want to run the risk of your health suffering due to adulterants and unnecessary substances in your spice. To be safe and sure, you should always use organic turmeric.
Test for Turmeric Purity at Home:
While you may not use a great deal of fresh or dry turmeric root, you may use turmeric powder, which is easy enough to adulterate. You don’t have to search for a lab and take turmeric samples for testing, spending money in the bargain. There are some simple home tests that you can do in your kitchen.
You need a few ingredients, some of which you may have at home or you can get them from a nearby chemist. The substances that can help you test the purity of turmeric at home are iodine, hydrochloric acid and methylated spirit.
Find out below some of the ways on how to check the purity of turmeric powder at home:
The spice powder should be bright and dark yellow in color. If the color is insipid or dull, it is likely to be impure.
Rub some spice powder on the palm of your hand. If it leaves a bright residue on your skin, when you shake the powder away, it is likely to be pure.
When you smell a freshly opened packet of turmeric, it should have a gingery, earthy and floral smell. If you don’t get a fragrance, then the turmeric is not fresh and pure or it is adulterated.
Heat a glass of water till lukewarm and add a teaspoon of turmeric. Do not stir and let the turmeric settle down. Leave for about 20 minutes and then check. If the water is cloudy, then your turmeric is impure. If the water is clear, then your turmeric is fine.
Metanil yellow test
Put a ¼ teaspoon of the ground spice in a glass test tube or small glass. Add a few drops of hydrochloric acid and shake, adding a bit of water if required. If the color changes to pink, it has metanil yellow.
Put some powdered turmeric in a test tube, add a few drops of hydrochloric acid and add water. If you see bubbles forming, it is an indication of chalk used as filler.
Lead chromate or lead salts
When you do the above and mixture turns magenta, it is an indication of the spice being adulterated with lead chromate, which is dangerous.
In a teaspoon of the spice powder add few drops of water. Then add a teaspoon of methylated spirit. If the yellow color disappears, it indicates the presence of aniline dyes.
Mix turmeric with a little water and add iodine solution to it. If the sample turns blue, it shows that the turmeric is not pure, but adulterated with starch. There are different starches that may be added to the turmeric, and if you want to find out which one, you will have to take the sample to the lab.
Even turmeric root can be adulterated. If you are unsure about the quality of your rhizome, place on a piece of paper and pour water over it. In case the paper gets discolored, it is possible that the root has been artificially colored.
When and Why is Testing Necessary?
If you buy organic turmeric from a reliable source, you should be relatively free of any doubt regarding its origins and purity. A well-packed and branded carton or package of turmeric should be pure and of good quality. But if you buy loose turmeric, you may not be certain of its quality and, in small shops and towns, it may well contain unwanted substances.
When you use turmeric for its known health and dietary benefits, you should ensure that you use good quality turmeric. And when you have some doubts, whichever or wherever you buy turmeric from, it is wiser and safer to conduct some home tests, so that you get all the health benefits of turmeric that you are supposed to.
If adulterated with fillers and other unnecessary substances, you will not get the benefits of curcumin that this wonderful root contains as its percentage will reduce. If your spice contains artificial colors and other dangerous ingredients, you are at risk of nervous disorders, cancer and metal poisoning that can affect your health negatively. That is why it is best to buy organic products.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician's advice. Please consult with your health care professional before buying this product.