5 Basic Ways To Check If Your Spices Are Adulterated

As cases of spice adulteration go up, The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been looking into the alleged reports of contaminated spices. Several brands have been under the scanner and have been flagged for the usage of harmful chemicals in spice manufacture. Consumers are also ramping up their efforts to double-check the authenticity of their packaged spices. 

Some spices are easier to replicate with cheaper ingredients while some varieties like ajwain or jeera powder are too hard to blend. There are some basic steps you can pursue to check if the spices in your home pantry are authentic and 100 per cent pure. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Try the colour test for turmeric

Adulterated turmeric is especially hard to identify because it usually comes in a yellow powder form which is easy to replicate. To check its authenticity, take two glasses of water and add a small quantity of turmeric to them. You will notice that the authentic one will turn light yellow and will settle down at the bottom. On the other hand, the colour of the adulterated turmeric will change into a strong, bright yellow.

For red chilli powder check the texture

The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) shared a simple test to find out if red chilli powder is adulterated with red brick powder which is commonly used. Take a glass of water and add a teaspoon of chilli powder. Now, take a small quantity of the residue on your palm and rub it. If you feel any hardness or grittiness after rubbing, then the chilli powder is mixed with brick powder In case, the residue feels soapy then it is adulterated with soapstone.

Solubility Test

The solubility test works on almost all spices; it is a simple yet effective method to detect adulterants like chalk or flour in powdered spices. Take a small quantity of the spice and mix it with water in a transparent glass. Genuine spices dissolve partially or not at all, leaving behind residue or granules. Conversely, adulterated spices containing water-soluble substances will dissolve readily, imparting a milky or cloudy appearance to the solution. 

For cumin do a simple rub

Grass seeds covered with charcoal are often sold as jeera or cumin seeds. To check for adulteration, you can take a pinch of cumin seeds between your palms and rub them. If the palms become black or shed a residue, the cumin seeds have been adulterated.

An advanced solubility test for pepper

Black pepper usually also has other speckles of colour which makes it easy to fake it. Black pepper is usually mixed with papaya seeds to adulterate it and you can try a simple solubility test because genuine black peppercorns will sink in water, while papaya seeds will float. If the black pepper is 100 per cent genuine, all corn will sink and settle at the bottom of the glass while the papaya seeds will float on top.