How to Make Natural Blue, Green, Pink, Purple and Yellow Dyes

According to the American Chemical Society, most synthetic food dyes are made from petroleum… mum, sounds yummy. And, artificial dyes are found in everything from cereals to candy to drinks and even vitamins.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens…Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply.”

The below CBS News video explores the possible link between food dyes and ADHD in children.

So, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of knowingly harming my body with these ingredients. So, when making my latest batch of vegan frosting, I decided to try making my own colored frostings using fruits and vegetables and I was amazed at the results. Here’s how you can make your own natural food dyes at home.

 

Blue

The easiest way to get natural blue coloring is to buy butterfly pea tea (the powder or tea) or blue algae/spirulina. However, these were outside my budget so I chose the cheapest route, which was cabbage. Yes, you read that correctly. You can get a beautiful natural blue hue from the veggie. Here’s how to do it:

  • Step 1: Cut up some purple cabbage (I used half a head) and put it in a pot of boiling water
  • Step 2: Boil for 15-30 minutes (I boiled mine for about 20 minutes until I saw the water turn a deep purple color)
  • Step 3: Remove the cabbage pieces and boil for another 15-30 minutes until the liquid reduces to about half.
  • Step 4: Strain the liquid and transfer to a jar to cool completely.
  • Step 5: After it cools, add about 1/8 baking soda and stir. Check the color. If it doesn’t look blue, then add another 1/8 and stir. Keep adding until it turns blue. You really shouldn’t need more than ½ teaspoon, depending on how much liquid you have. And, be mindful to only add it in in the small 1/8 measurements because too much baking soda will cause it to have a harsh flavor.

Green

For natural green coloring I alternate between 3 different powders: matcha, spirulina or kale powder.

Pink

There are so many options for pink. You can blend up some strawberries, cherries or raspberries. After straining, you’ll be left with a red color, which, when adding to white icing will be pink. For the picture above, I actually used freeze-dried pink dragon fruit.  I crushed up the dragon fruit chips into a powder and then added boiling water on top of it. After 5 minutes, I strained it and then added the color to my white icing.

Yellow

For a natural yellow hue, I use turmeric. A little bit goes a long way, so when using this, add it slowly and sparingly. Because the flavor of the turmeric may come through, I like to add a bit of lemon or ginger to the icing when using the spice.

Purple

The easiest way to get purple is to blend up some blueberries (I prefer to boil it with sugar until it becomes syrupy and extract the water), strain it and use the liquid. But, I accidentally made the purple in the above photo by adding sorrel juice (hibiscus tea) to my icing base (I thought it would turn pink), and it made an unexpected gorgeous purple tint.

Do you have any tips and tricks on how you make your own natural food dyes? I’d love to hear them!

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