With the variety of food additives that have found their place in our kitchen, food coloring agents are one of them. However, nowadays, people prefer to use natural agents that are fresh and free from chemicals and toxins. The artificial colors are mainly made up of petroleum, and are a derivative of petrochemicals and coal tar. These chemicals are not easily digested by human or any other animal. They pose several dangers to the health, so going the natural way is always a better choice. Though colors prepared with natural ingredients may slightly affect the flavor of the dish, they are a safer option. Given below are some recipes to make the natural colors.
Red Food Color
Beets offer a vibrant color, without changing the flavor of the dish. The color can be prepared by simply boiling and pulverizing the beets. The procedure to make this color is as follows:
- Take about a pound of beets, and scrub them to remove any dirt present on them.
- Put these beets in a pot and add some water to it. Cover the pot and allow it to boil, until the beets are tender.
- Remove the beets from the water, peel them, and chop them. Any juice that is released in the process of chopping should be added to the water that was used for boiling, as it is going to be used further.
- Put the chopped beet back in the water, and let it remain in the water for a couple of hours.
- You may either use the water directly after straining the beet, or you may mash the beet in the water, and then strain the pulp for a more concentrated color.
- Pour the color into a jar, and add about 2 teaspoons of vinegar into it, to maintain the color.
Green Food Color
Green color can be prepared by the use of green leafy vegetables like spinach. Apart from this, you may also use liquid chlorophyll to add a vibrant green color to your dish.The method to prepare this color from spinach is given below.
- Take some spinach or avocado, wash it thoroughly, and puree it with a blender, until smooth.
- In a medium pan, add 4 cups of water, and pour in about ½ cup of spinach or avocado puree. Boil this mixture, and then let it simmer for a couple of hours over a low flame.
- Strain the pulp from the liquid, and pour the liquid into a container, to allow it to cool. You may add about ¼ tsp of baking powder in this liquid to elicit a deep green color.
- Refrigerate the color till you wish to use it.
While the flavors of avocado are not very strong, and blend into almost any dish that you may prepare, spinach may slightly alter the flavor of the food. Thus, depending on what you are cooking, use the appropriate ingredient to make the color. Green food color can also be made by following the same process with kale leaves, the flavors of which are slightly milder than spinach.
Blue Food Color
Purple and blue colors are difficult to make, but they can be prepared by using a variety of fruits like blueberries, blackberries, etc. But, the best way to prepare the blue color is from red cabbage. It can be prepared from red cabbage with the help of following steps.
- Take ½ of a medium-sized head red cabbage.
- Place the cabbage in a pot of water, and allow it to boil on a medium flame. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat, and allow it to simmer for a couple of hours, till it becomes soft, or turns dark green in color.
- Filter the water, which will have developed a deep blue color.
- Pour it in a container and refrigerate to retain the color. Use it to add a unique color to your favorite cake frosting.
Yellow Food Color
This color can simply be attained by using stale turmeric powder. Stale because it loses its flavor, but the color is still as rich. Also, boiling lemon and orange peels, or chopped carrots, and following a similar process as mentioned above, will help you achieve a natural yellow food coloring.
Tips to Use Natural Food Coloring
It may be simple to prepare and store, but the art of using natural food color is slightly tricky.
- Always keep in mind the kind of food you are going to add the color to. As aforementioned, the coloring agent has the ability to alter the flavor of the dish you wish to make, but only at a very small level. Even so, try to avoid using green color made from spinach for your cake frosting.
- Use the coloring agents within 2 weeks, as they lose their coloring and nutritious properties if kept for a longer period of time. Discard it if unused within this time period.
- Since all coloring agents are in a liquid form, they can affect the consistency of the dish you are preparing. Also, they are not as powerful as commercial coloring agents, and require to be used in larger amounts.
- When preparing a dish that requires color, reduce the amount of liquid needed to prepare the dish, and balance it off with the coloring agent. However, start by adding small amounts, till you achieve the desired shade.
Thus, instead of using commercial coloring agents, you can create your own natural colors, and create an interesting blend of colors to make your food as visually appealing, as delicious it is.