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Cooking Tips

How to Prevent Beets from Staining Your Hands

 Enjoy your beets without the lingering stains.

Classic red beets provide the brightest color and a show-stopping jewel-tone that enhances any dish. They are also the most likely to stain your hands, cutting board, and just about any other porous surface in your kitchen. Vegetables Illustrated devotes an entire section to cooking beets and how to clean up afterwards.

Whether you’re shredding some for a Beet, Endive, and Pear Slaw or making a Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios, once you start handling beets it’s a race against the clock to avoid stains. Here are some tips to keeping your hands stain-free.

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How to Prevent Beets from Staining Your Hands

The best way to get rid of beet stains is to avoid them altogether. Here are the two best ways to do it.

Wear gloves

Wearing a glove on the hand (or hands) holding the beet is a clear, simple way to prevent beet stains in the first place. A glove also doubles as a way to help grip a slippery peeled beet when cutting or grating.  

Coat your hand in oil

We’ve mentioned how a spritz of cooking spray prevents beets from staining a cutting board, but oil works well for hands, too. A scant ½ teaspoon will do the trick. Note: only oil the hand that will be touching the beets as opposed to the hand holding the knife (safety first, folks). You’ll be amazed by how easily your hands rinse clean afterwards.  

How to Remove Beet Stains from Your Hands

So you decided to prep that beet bare-handed. If red isn't your color, there are ways to remove the stains. Beet stains come from betalains, a natural pigment that comes in reds and yellows. Fortunately, they’re water-soluble and can be washed away—if you work fast.

Right when you’re finished handling the beets, wash your hands with plenty of hot, soapy water. If you need an extra stain-removing boost, use one of these methods below. Don’t be afraid to try those Vegan Pinto Bean–Beet Burgers, just move quickly.

Wash your hands with salt

Once you’ve seasoned your Beets with Lime and Pepitas with salt, go ahead and season your hands, too. Scrub the salt and soap into those stains before washing as normal. Its abrasive quality takes the stains off your hands and down the drain in no time.

Use a little . . . toothpaste?

Surprisingly, we found that whitening toothpaste works well. Simply rub a little onto your hands before washing and those pink stains will be gone in a flash.

Photo: Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images