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6 August 2014

How To Make Natural Food Dyes - They're Nutritional & Non-Toxic

When grown-ups reminisce about the best times they had as a child, invariably they bring up cooking with Mum. Both girls and boys enjoy making colourful cupcakes and playing Rembrant as they paint the holiday cookies with blue, green, and pink frosting! Baking colourful tasty goodies create cherished childhood memories as they mellow in our minds. 

So, Mums, it's time to get out your mixing bowls, cupcake tins, and cookie sheets and spend some quality time with the kids! Before you get started though, we want to explain how to make completely natural and totally non-toxic food dyes for the frosting. These natural food dyes also work well for colouring Easter eggs, dying home-made play dough, turning cake into pretty colours, and adding holiday themed pizzaz to drinks!

You may recall that in a previous post, we talked about the health dangers of artificial food dyes lurking in processed foods marketed directly at kids -- items like hot dogs, cheese crackers, breakfast cereals, and the cakes sold at your favourite grocery store bakery. Remember, these artificial food dyes are made from petroleum derivatives and they cause everything from attention deficient disorder to brain tumours.

Unfortunately, these are the same petroleum based food dyes that you get in those little plastic tubes many Mums use to make colourful frosting. Savvy Mums instinctually know that just because the government claims something is safe to eat does not necessarily mean this is actually true! As Mums, we have to protect our little ones even when the government does not do so.

Below, you will find a mini-guide to making different coloured frostings and natural food dyes for other purposes like egg dying

Red/Pink Frosting & Natural Red/Pink Food Dye
To turn your frosting into a beautiful shade of pink or red, you can always add the juice of red fruits like raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, and pomegranates. However, this will impart an intense fruity flavour you may not want. This is especially true if you want to make your frosting red rather than pink because you will need to add more to produce this intense colour.

To make pink or red frosting with no added flavour, you can use concentrated beet juice which imparts virtually no flavour. If you buy a highly concentrated beet juice from a health food store or food coops, you should be able to produce a deep hot pink or a vibrant red without adding flavour -- but you will be adding nutrients! With a highly concentrated beet juice, it should take about the same number of drops of beet juice as it would if you were using one of the artificial petroleum based food dyes on the market. Keep in mind too that the more concentrated the beet juice, the easier it will be to create a true red frosting, red Easter egg, or red sponge cake.

You can also make your own concentrated beet juice natural food dye from a fresh beet. To do so, simply peel the beet, cut it up into small pieces, put these in a sauce pan, cover with water, bring to a full boil, turn the heat down to a medium boil, and continue boiling until you have just a one to three tablespoons of red water in the bottom of the pot. Remember, the more concentrated you make it, the easier it will be to make a true vibrant red colour and the less liquid you'll need to use to make pink.

Here's another good tip on making red, not just pink, from concentrated beet juice. To make true red, you need a bit of yellow mixed in too. If you are making red sugar cookies, the dough should be yellow enough to add in with the red beet juice to produce a true red cookie. If you are making red butter cream frosting, try using butter made from pasture raised cows. The pre-coloured frosting will be more yellow using pastured butter and your beet juice will easily turn this yellow butter bright red. If you are using pale butter, it will be tougher. You can also add a bit of real vanilla extra to your frosting to turn it a bit more yellow before you add your beet based natural red food dye.

If you dye white eggs in natural beet juice dye, you should end up with pink or red eggs, depending on how long you leave them in the water. If you dye brown eggs with the same beet dye, you'll end up with a beautiful maroon coloured egg. 

You can also try boiling yellow onion skins down to about one tablespoon (super concentrated) and use this to dye eggs a rusty red colour. You can also use this onion peel dye to create a yellow to rusty red frosting.
When dying Easter eggs, be sure to add a tablespoon of vinegar to each cup of water so the egg shell will pick up the colour better.

Blue Frosting & Natural Blue Food Dye
This may sound very strange but the easiest way to make a natural blue food dye without adding taste is boiling red cabbage. To make this natural blue dye, simply shred a half head of red cabbage, place in a pot, cover with water, bring to a rapid boil, and then turn the heat to medium and stew the cabbage for about 30-60 minutes until there is only a tiny bit of blue liquid in the bottom. To get the most concentrated portion of blue cabbage juice, press the cooked cabbage in a strainer and let the natural blue dye seep out. If you stir in a tiny pinch of baking soda to the concentrated cabbage juice, you'll get a deeper more saturated blue.

Purple Frosting & Natural Purple Food Dye
If you remember your elementary school finger painting days, you'll recall that you make purple from mixing blue and red together. The trick with natural food dyes to make is that to make purple, you just a little blue added to a lot more red/pink. If you are making purple frosting, initially make about ninety percent of your frosting red or reddish pink and about ten percent of your frosting blue. Then, mix a little of the blue frosting into the red/pink frosting until you reach your desired purple colour.

You can also make a beautiful shade of lavender Easter eggs or lavender frosting by boiling down red onion skins until you have a high concentrated dye. Again, remember to add the 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 1 cup of water.

Green Frosting & Natural Green Food Dye
The most beautiful greenish-blue frosting can be made by adding just a speck of Spirulina powder to your frosting. The same is true for dying Easter eggs a greenish-blue. The colour is simply stunning! No artificial dye can match what nature produces here!

Another way to make natural green frosting is to simply to add a few drops of concentrated liquid chlorophyll. You can buy chlorophyll pre-made but you can also make your own by boiling down any dark green leafy vegetables until you create a concentrated green liquid. While most recipes called for using spinach, members of the dark green Brassica family actually make a more intensely saturated natural green food dye. These include Lacinato kale, mustard greens, and a collards.

Yellow/Orange Frosting & Natural Yellow/Orange Food Dye
Yellow and orange frosting can be made by adding a tiny pinch of saffron or turmeric. To avoid clumping in frosting, mix some into a spoon of frosting and then mix this into the rest of the frosting. Saffron is more delicately flavoured than turmeric but it is also much more expensive.

Beautiful shades of yellow, gold, or orange Easter eggs can also be made by boiling down yellow onion peels and using this to dye white eggs. If you use this same natural yellow onion food dye on brown eggs, you'll get a dark orange or rusty coloured egg. You can turn this into a sparkling "golden egg" by rubbing the egg with oil.

Brown Frosting & Natural Brown Food Dye
Brown frosting can be achieved using cocoa powder, cinnamon, or highly concentrated coffee.

Black Frosting & Natural Black Food Dye
If you need to frost a black cat cookie for Halloween or paint Santa Claus' belt on a sugar cookie, then you'll need a natural black food dye. The safest choices are concentrated squid ink or food grade activated charcoal. Squid ink is full of nutrients and has even been shown to have anti-cancer properties! Food grade activated charcoal is one of the best ways to detox your system. You should be able to find these two speciality items in many health food stores or gourmet shops. However, if you can't find them locally, they are both available through Amazon.

Dried Vegetable Powders
Instead of making or buying liquid natural food dyes, you can also use dried vegetable powders to colour your frostings and other foods. You can use tomato powder or beet powder for pink or red, blueberry powder for blue, asparagus powder or spinach powder for green, and carrot powder for yellow or orange. While you can buy dried vegetable powders ready made, you can also make your own with a food dehydrator and a good mortar and pestle or electronic grinder.

Have Some Fun With Your Natural Food Dyes!
Do the kids have the first day of school doldrums? How about adding fun to the occasion with a piping hot bowl of turquoise oatmeal make with Spirulina powder! Do you have a child into the whole Gothic scene? How about serving up a plate of black pasta or black risomade with squid ink. You can pretend to be a family of bloody thirsty vampires by adding tomato powder to your milk. Is your little girl wild about pink? Add some beet juice natural food dye to her breakfast cereal milk!

Finally, Natural Food Dyes Give You Peace Of Mind!
Remember, these natural food dyes are not only colourful, they're also extremely healthy. No more do you have to worry about a bright blue cookie being loaded with petroleum based toxins. You can serve your kids a beautiful slice of red velvet cake with healthy antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins added in with concentrated beet juice instead of lacing it with artificial red dye toxins!

Discover eco toys - made of natural materials and painted with non-toxic colours.