Natural Food Dyes

Updated on January 26, 2009
H.X. asks from Midlothian, VA
10 answers

Hi, we're doing some baking for Valentine's and have some family members who can't eat the artificial food colorings. I'd like to use food coloring to tint some icing for cookie frosting but am not familiar with natural options. Any suggestions for make my own food coloring? Are there any ready made natural food colorings? I live near a Whole Foods and a few other stores with natural food sections but have not noticed anything for food coloring. Thanks for your help!

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So What Happened?

Hi everyone and thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas about natural food coloring options. I will look into the suggesteded brands by India Foods and Seelect and see what Whole Foods carries. Great ideas for at home experimenting with my own colorings using the fruit, vegetable and other options, will see how adventurous the kitchen makes me.

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A.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Try mixing some beets/beet juice for the color red. You can hardly taste it and it has a beautiful foxy red color :)

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A.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Try mixing some beets/beet juice for the color red. You can hardly taste it and it has a beautiful foxy red color :)

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K.L.

answers from Washington DC on

What about pureeing (not sure that's a word, lol) some strawberries, raspberries, etc and adding a touch of that to the icing for the coloring??

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K.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Ask for food dyes at Whole Foods and they may order them for you if they don't carry the product. I've used some products they've carried with mixed results. The red color turns out pink and I think the taste was fine. From time to time, they also carry colored sugar crystals which look pretty and are easy to use. I get sprinkles from them for birthday cupcakes. I've experimented with blueberry or raspberry syrup but you don't get an intense color without adding too much and affecting the texture. Still it was fun and the kids enjoyed the experiments.

To get an intense green or yellow, you also get an unpleasant food taste. But read the label and you'll get the idea. I tried to make yellow jello and it tasted like tumeric which I like ordinarily but not in a sweet.

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A.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Beet juice make a glorious hot pink color

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V.F.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Heather- There are natural food colors out there. There is a brand called Seelect 100% natural food color. There are a few colors to choose from- whole foods used to carry them but I do not know if they do anymore- look in baking aisle but I know Mom's (my organic market)carries them. Also Wholefoods carries natural colored sprinkles- they probably have them in red- don't have any right now, so can't tell you the name- if whole foods does not have them then moms will. Another idea, you could stir some cut up strawberries in sugar- let them sit in the refrigerator for a while- till there is a lot of juice- and use that to color your icing. Hope this helps. Have fun making your cookies- take care V. (Rachael 7, Josh 4)

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A.P.

answers from Roanoke on

I would definately give the stores like Whole food a closer look. There are companies that make natural colorings so they might carry them. you can also order them online, just search google for natural food coloring.
The other post had a great idea for coloring as well. But just a note, you might be careful how much you add if you try that because it can water down icing fast. and if you find coloring at a store I would look for the powdered ones as the liquid can have the same effect.
Good Luck!

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L.R.

answers from Washington DC on

As others have said, Whole Foods is a good option and I'd ask at their information desk instead of spending time trolling through the store. Also, there is a small chain of all-health-food stores called Healthway in this area (there are ones in Fairfax and Springfield, I think) and you could call them to see if they carry these colorings or can refer you to a store that does. Finally, I don't know where you're located, but in Fairfax City (near the intersection of Rt. 29 and Rt. 50) there is a small but spectacularly well stocked baking and candy-making speciality store called Fran's. They might carry a line of natural dyes or they might know a place to buy or order them online. Good luck!

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J.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Whole foods carries a brand called India Tree that is quite expensive, ($17) for basic 4 colors. I haven't used them, but I've heard that if you use a lot it can alter the taste of your icing.

I've made green with pureed spinach ( I know it sounds gross, but no one even knew and I couldn't taste the spinach). I've made pick with beets. I used a can of beets and pureed a few then cooked it down until it was thick and syrupy...that way I didn't have to use as much and it didn't water down my icing too much.

Others I haven't tried are:

yellow - tumeric - refrigerate overnight to deepen the color - you can add a small amount of pure lemon extract to mask flavor is wanted

red - use the beet syrup but add a lot and deepen color for 2 days in freezer

purple - boil red cabbage - concentrate as you do with the beets

blue - a steely, gray-blue may be made by adding baking soda to the cabbage juice

brown - easy...cocoa

* all colors can be varied by adding either baking soda or vinegar.

Hope this helps...J. :) - My kids don't eat artificials either!

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A.B.

answers from Norfolk on

Grape juice concentrate is good for light purple. Orange juice concentrate is good for orange and yellow. I would ask at customer service at Whole Foods if you can't find anything on the shelves. They may be able to order some for you if they are out of stock or don't carry it at their location. Otherwise, the options the other ladies here have offered are a great start. If you're looking for candies too, Yummy Earth has safe lollipops and hard candies that my kids love. My step-son cannot handle artificial dyes at all and he was so excited to finally be able to eat a red lollipop. If you know someone that runs a Frontier Co-op, you can get a canister of 150 for $15.00 plus shipping.

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L.P.

answers from Washington DC on

You could try beetroot juice as a dye for a pink color in your icing.

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