In the light of growing scientific studies and evidences, we find ourselves constantly changing our eating habits, lifestyles and diets. In order to conform to a healthy standard of living, we’re routinely coming up with natural alternatives to processed and artificial food ingredients. Trending, these days, are natural food coloring for frosting and baking. Apparently, bakers and frosting lovers have found their niche! This article is your go-to guide for latest developments in the food color industry. It’s a comprehensive guide that also informs you about the detrimental effects of artificial colors and how decades old big corporations are finally making switches to these healthy and natural food dyes! You can experiment with various fruits and vegetables to produce mild to concentrated coloring.
Universally, in all cultures colorful treats are attractive and appetite inducing. Before you venture out to make delicious sweets, you should learn how to extract natural colorful pigments from foods and vegetables. It’s a fairly simple process, yet does away with having to rely upon store bought food colors. You can produce vibrant colors without using chemicals but make sure you only use small quantities to avoid adding fruit/veggie flavors to your treats. These dyes are most suitable for cake icing and frosting, as they’re not concentrated enough to be used in cakes. In this section, we cover 7 homemade dyes with each color being produced from a variety of sources:
Pink and Red
To make pink or red food color you can use pomegranates, raspberries, and beetroots. Each item gives a rich and beautiful color. For slightly more concentrated shades, raspberries and beetroots would be better choices.
After freezing the fruit, add the fruit to a blender and crush it. When it is slightly liquefied, pour it through a strainer to remove the pulp/seeds and refrigerate it. Your dye is ready for use. Store it in an airtight container to make it last longer.
For beetroots, boil them and then transfer the mixture into a blender. Then, strain the pulp and keep the juice. This is a concentrated juice, so using a lot of it may give off a taste. Store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it.
Yellow and Orange
Using turmeric to give color is a centuries old tradition in South Asia that continues to be utilized till this day. But there are also other options too. Carrots also give off a perfect orange or yellow tint, depending on how you want it.
Take a spoon of turmeric powder and add some water. Simmer this mixture for a few minutes. After it has cool down, pour it into an airtight container and refrigerate it. Bear in mind that using a lot of turmeric can make the taste stronger. Use turmeric moderately, as it is already naturally concentrated. For carrots, use a juicer. Once you have the juice extracted you’ll see a rich orange color. If you dilute this, it’ll become closer to the yellow shade. Sieve the pulp if there’s any remaining and refrigerate the juice.
To prepare the green color you can use spinach or pandan leaves. Pandan leaves might be difficult to find. But there is a better chance of finding them at Asian stores.
Take fresh spinach leaves and simmer them in water for a few minutes. Then, strain the juice, and refrigerate it in an airtight container. Repeat the same method for pandan leaves.
Blue and Purple
Blueberries, butterfly pea flower, and cabbage (purplish-blue) can all be used to obtain a blue food dye. You can dilute these mixtures to change the blue shade to purple. Blueberries are more likely to give a purple shade when diluted. Butterfly pea flower has long been used in Asian cultures, especially for a variety of teas.
Use frozen blueberries and crush them in a blender. Then strain the juice and refrigerate. For butterfly pea flower, crush the petals in a small amount of water and then strain the juice. For cabbage, cut into pieces and simmer in water for half an hour. This will result in a purple liquid. If you want a blue-er shade, add baking soda. Keep all of these dyes in airtight containers.
The reason, we prepare the dark brown color specifically is because we can manage getting a light brown shade by mixing a few of the dyes mentioned above. Using coffee beans and caramelized sugar are two best ways to obtain a flavor-friendly dark brown dye.
Take one teaspoon of coffee and mix it with a half cup of water. Store it in an airtight container. For caramelized sugar, take a saucepan and simmer sugar and water together until the mixture reaches a sand like consistency. Remove this mixture from the pan, add lemon to it and store in an airtight container. Adding lemon prevents re-crystallization. Refrigerate both dyes to preserve them for longer periods.
DIY Concentrated Cake Dyes
As opposed to mild coloring for frosting, concentrated food dyes are used for adding color to cake batters. Concentrated dyes are best in the form of powder if you prepare them at home. You can also get store bought fruit and vegetable powders. However, vegetable powders are likely to turn brown during the baking process. To avoid this, you must neutralize the alkalinity by adding lemon to your cake mix. You can prepare your own powder dyes by pulverizing frozen dried fruits/vegetables in a food processor. You may add a small quantity of water to dissolve them before using. Another way to make natural food coloring for baking is by using the puree/pulp of fruits and vegetables and simmering it. If there still are small chunks of solids remaining, strain the puree by pressing it against a siever. Then, collect the thick liquid and refrigerate it.
Natural Food Coloring vs. Artificial Food Coloring
It seems in the coming years, we’ll see a rise in the natural food coloring industry. As consumers have begun demanding healthy ingredients, artificial foods are increasingly undergoing scrutiny by health organizations.This occurrence has forced companies to replace chemical based artificial ingredients with natural ones due to losing market share. In 2017, many manufacturers have raised their standard of food safety and are now requiring their suppliers to qualify stringent safety criteria. As health awareness is spreading among the masses, artificial food colors are being exposed for their cancer causing properties. Despite the US not strictly regulating artificial food ingredients, awareness has led people to decrease the popularity of such products. With things continuing on a positive trajectory, we can safely bet the near future will increase varieties in natural baking and frosting ingredients.