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We have a large granite (I think) mortar and pestle, and while keeping it clean generally doesn't seem too difficult, I have absolutely no idea how to avoid it staining when it's used with turmeric powder when cooking curries.

Generally, we'll ground the spices then add garlic and a little water to create a paste which is then fried; the only solution I can think of to avoid the yellow stain is to add the turmeric separately to the pan and leave it out of the mortar entirely. Would this work satisfactorily, or is there a way to get the colour from the mortar?

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Funny, I had the same exact issue this weekend with a plastic white spatula that is now a plastic yellow spatula, and I can't for the life of me figure out how to remove the color short of diluted bleaching (which is probably what I'll end up trying). Can't wait to see what the community has to suggest! – stephennmcdonald Sep 27 '10 at 15:28
I would leave the turmeric stain in. It would not affect the flavour of any future mixture I wish to pestle. Because turmeric is a food known to reduce risk of dementia, I would want it to seep into everything I eat. – Blessed Geek Oct 27 '13 at 22:03
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Turmeric is an intense stain. I would use a little bit of bleach, let it sit until the stain disappears, then wash the mortar very thoroughly. Another option is just to accept that the mortar may develop colors over time, and think of it as character.

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+1 for character! – mouviciel Sep 27 '10 at 19:02

if you're worried about extra tumeric getting into your spice mixes, i'd recommend adding a little bit of water (like 1 tsp) and grinding salt into the mortar. this should remove most of the extra bits of the spice, but it may still leave a little bit of color.

if the color STILL bothers you, the only thing i can think of that isn't mentioned above is making a poultice like i do for my granite countertops. here's a site with some pretty easy-to-follow instructions:

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Apparently, if you washed the mortar with a mild soap and water, and let the mortar dry out in direct sunlight or a sunlamp for 5-10+ minutes, the stain will "magically" fade or completely disappear.

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It may take longer than 5-10 minutes, but sunlight makes excellent bleach. – Eclipse Sep 28 '10 at 16:43
yeah likely... the longer you leave it, the more it will fade... fixed that above. – CokoBWare Sep 28 '10 at 18:32

For cleaning granite, check out the tips (and what not to do) at this resource.

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you might try soaking it in lemon juice or ammonia, too.

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As mentioned at the site that justkt linked, it's probably not a good idea to use any kind of acid on granite, as it will tend to etch the surface. – Taeraresh Sep 30 '10 at 20:14

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