How to make natural food coloring at home
Try your hand at colorful food dyes without buying the expensive stuff.
I wouldn’t call myself an all-out health nut, but I do try to avoid certain ingredients with a well-deserved bad rap. Food coloring is definitely on that list. But as someone who bakes often, and loves making attractive, personalized desserts, I’ve had plenty of occasions where I wanted a bit of color for my food – and using chemicals just wasn’t going to cut it.
Natural food dyes are cost-prohibitive, so I gave the homemade versions a try. It was easier than I thought, and although the color is light, I’m happy to make some compromises for health. Taste testers agreed that the spinach, blueberry, turmeric and beet dyes barely changed the flavor.
For a bright, neon green color, I used fresh wheatgrass – but beware, the taste is strong with this natural – and very healthy – dye!
- 2 cups loosely packed spinach
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 loose beets, cleaned and cooked, with their juices
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup boiling water
Light green dye
Pale purple dye
Bright pink dye
Light green dye: Combine spinach and water in a frying pan. Heat on low-medium flame, and stir until spinach is wilted. Process in a small food processor, and then strain through a fine mesh sieve.
Pale purple dye: Combine berries and water in a tall cup. Use an immersion blender to fully process the berries. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
Bright pink dye: Strain the juices after cooking beets, and reserve the thick, colored water to use as dye. It looks red, but usually ends up a bright pink when added to icing sugar. (Here are a few ideas for using up those beets!)
Yellow dye: Mix turmeric into boiling water and stir until combined.
Related Topics: Baking