Colorful food is not only a visual feast but also a way to express one’s culinary skills. In order to present a richer color in food, and ensure the health and safety of raw materials, more and more modern consumers pay more attention to the natural ingredients of food, and the use of natural food colorants. We can find the source of natural pigments everywhere every day. For example, when you get up in the morning and open the refrigerator, you may see a lot of natural pigments. Then, do you know how to make a natural pigment at home? First of all, we choose some vegetables with their own rich colors, such as:

Pink: strawberries, raspberries
Red: Beets, tomatoes
Orange: Carrots, paprika, sweet potato
Yellow: Saffron, turmeric
Green: Matcha, spinach
Blue: Red cabbage, baking soda, Clitoria flowers
Purple: Blueberries, purple potatoes, Clitoria flowers and lemon
Brown: Coffee, tea, cocoa
Black: Activated carbon, cuttlefish juice

These colored foods can be made into powders or sauces that can be used in our food instead of chemical pigments. Generally speaking, there are two ways to make it:

Natural pigment powder

When making powder natural pigments, we should choose ingredients with low water content and high fiber content because of the need for dehydration. For example purple potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and so on. The steps are as follows:

  1. Slice vegetables/fruits into thin slices (thinner slices, shorter drying time).
  2. Dehydrate in a food dehydrator or oven at 100℃ until completely dry (about 1-6 hours, depending on the situation, or buy finished dehydrated vegetables/freeze-dried fruits, you can omit steps 1 and 2)
  3. Put the dehydrated vegetable/fruit slices into a coffee grinder or wall breaker and grind them into powder.
  4. The powder can be stored in an airtight container for as long as 1 year.

This is the easiest way to make food coloring because concentrated powders dissolve easily, which means they have a stronger color. For each use, add a tablespoon of the powder with a little water and stir until the powder is completely dissolved. Remember, too much water will dull the color.

Natural pigment juice

This liquid can be pure fruit juice, puree, soup, etc. You can choose dragon fruit, mango, spinach, amaranth and other vegetables or fruits that have a certain amount of water in them. The process is as follows: Use a juicer to squeeze out fruit or vegetable juice and pour it into a saucepan over low heat to evaporate to the right consistency. Note: Puree may contain some solids that need to be filtered before use. Using this method to make pigment, it is necessary to heat slowly over a small fire, so that the color is more stable.

We know that one of the challenges with homemade natural food colors is that they’re not as bright as commercial colors. Therefore, we should have the expectation that we must accept that our red will not be pure red, but it will have its unique color and what’s more, it’s safe, which is unmatched by commercial pigments. That’s the joy of making natural coloring at home.

Ye Tao