In a few days, I’ll be posting my recipe for my Easter Spring Swirl Lamb Cake. I “veganized” the recipe from my childhood by nixing the animal products. But instead of using store bought artificial food colorings like we did growing up, I wanted to use the magic of nature to create beautiful pastel all-natural food colors to swirl into my cake batter. Here are a few of my homemade food colors that you can use in just about any baked good recipe: cakes, cookies, pancakes, muffins. Natural Homemade Food Coloring Ideas…
I was at Whole Foods, excited to gather ingredients for my veganized Swirled Easter Lamb Cake. I grabbed a box of the only liquid food coloring that I could find at Whole Foods. I wanted pink and green dyed cake – and fast! The brand I found had lovely natural ingredients and I had heard good things about these dyes, but I knew I was being lazy (I could easily make pink and green myself).
Then I looked at the price tag. Over $16 for cake dye? I guess these were long-lasting “investment” bottles. Hmm, not into that kind of commitment today. I put them back. But that was OK, because I knew I could get beautiful pastel pink and green batter by using my own natural food coloring recipes…
For my cake I needed green and pink.
Green: kale juice extracted from my juicer. I only needed about 2 tsp of kale juice to get a very rich pastel green color.
Pink: I actually took a handful of red currents and blended them in a blender with the white batter. The batter turned pastel pink and gave the batter a sweet tart hint of flavor I loved.I used my juicer to extract dark rich “food colors”:
My Pink Red Current Coloring:
*More about my juicer here*
*Juicing 101 and Buying Guide Post Here*
My end result cake (before swirling colors together):
And there are plenty of options for fruit/veg/spice powder food colors…
Process: I used my juicer. This is the easiest way of extracting a thin juice color. You can also boil your ingredients in very shallow water and use the strained colored water from that. Or you can smash soft fruits/veggies and strain the juice away from the pulp.
*You can also blend berries directly into your batter – like i did with my red current “pink” batter. Just be sure to account for them in the recipe and make alterations if needed.
Just a few teaspoons of green kale juice is enough to pastel-green dye your bowl of batter:
Fruits n Veggies n Spices to Use for Natural Food Colorings:
Juiced: kale, parsley, spinach, romaine, cucumber, bell pepper, watercress….
Boiled green veggies, using the water/juice will give you a much lighter green color
Juiced red pepper
Juiced tomato, choose dark red tomatoes
rhubarb juiced or boiled
chile powder or paprika powder
juiced or boiled red cabbage
juiced eggplant skin
frozen, fresh or juiced blackberries
juiced(or smashed and strained) black/purple grapes
Juiced yellow beets
juiced yellow bell pepper
boiled yellow beets (lighter color)
warm-water soaked/bloomed saffron
What to look for in fruit/veggies:
Choose produce that is dark and concentrated in color. For example, choose dark kale as opposed to light kale. Choose dark-skinned grapes as opposed to light-skinned/translucent grapes. The bright beautiful colors will come from the rich pigments in the produce skin and flesh.
You also want to choose fruits and veggies that are known for staining. Think of all the clothes and hand stains you’ve had from produce: grape juice, tomato sauce, beet juice stained hands. Those “staining” fruits and veggies are perfect for this purpose!
Vinegar? Some natural food coloring recipes call for adding vinegar to your recipe. I personally just use the juice as is, but you can experiment with what works best for you and your specific recipe.
But Won’t this Change the Flavor of my Recipe? Good question, but surprisingly, these small hints of food “dye” do not change the flavor of a large batch of batter all that much. My “kale” stained batter did have a slight savory-grassy hint to it, but it was nothing to change the true flavor of my cake. And my “pink” batter did have a slight sweet-tart flavor, but I think this was because I blended in whole red currents instead of juicing them to extract the color.
My answer is no, if your extracts are concentrated enough, you will only need a tiny bit – and the flavor impact will be minimal. And a little beet or kale juice in a colorful cake never hurt anyone anyways!
Good Luck and Happy Colors!
FYI on Easter Eggs. I know a lot of you are vegetarian or flexitarian’s and may still be into Easter Egg dying – well FYI, you can probably choose these all natural colors in place of the fake stuff.