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DIY Natural Food Dyes
Whether you want to dye frosting (as pictured below) or cake batter, milkshakes or pancakes, there's no need to turn to artificial colors—plenty of common, everyday fruits and vegetables can get the job done. Some specific examples are below, but feel free to work from this assumption: if something stains your hands while handling it, it can dye food.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Beets = Pink to Magenta
If you just want a light pink, you can grate beets into a piece of cheesecloth or muslin and squeeze the juice out. For deeper, more intense coloring, use the juice rendered by roasted beets.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
Blackberries = Lavender
With all their dark, rich natural color, blackberries lend a lovely lavender color to foods. As with other berries, you can simply squeeze fresh blackberry juice to make a dye. For a bit of frosting, simply put some blackberries in a piece of cheesecloth or muslin, twist and squeeze out the juice into the food to dye, and add more to reach the color you want.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Blueberries = Light Blue
Blueberry juice comes out purple but will dye to a light blue shade. You can see the difference in this photo between the juice still on top of the frosting and that which has been stirred in. For just a bit of color, put fresh or frozen blueberries in a piece of cheesecloth or muslin and squeeze a bit fo juice out; for more dye, whirl blueberries in a blender or food processor and strain. Use fresh for more delicate, but a bluer color; or boil down to half its volume for a more intense but slightly more purple-shaded dye.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Cherries = Pink to Red
Cherries, like other berries, make for excellent natural food stains. As with blueberries, for just a bit of dye and a lighter pink color, simply put a few cherries in a piece of cheesecloth or muslin, and twist and squeeze some dying juice. For a more intense color, pit the cherries, whirl them in a blender or food processor, strain the purée, and boil down to about half its volume. Let cool before using.
For a delicate pink, strawberries work too!Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Red Cabbage = Blue
Red cabbage requires a tiny bit of extra effort to turn it into food dye, but the pure blue color is totally worth it. Chop about 1/4 head of red cabbage; put the cabbage in a saucepan with about 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook 20 minutes. Strain or lift out and discard the cabbage pieces. Stir 1 teaspoon baking soda into the purple liquid to turn it blue. Boil to reduce to about half its original volume, or even more for a deeper and more intense blue, let cool, and use as blue food dye.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
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Spinach or Kale = Green
Just as spinach and other dark leafy greens such as kale will stain your cutting board, they will stain other food. Whirl them in a blender or food processor, strain the purée through a fine-mesh sieve, and use the juice to dye food green.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
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Turmeric = Yellow to Orange
The spice turmeric is used mostly for its color, and as a straight-up food dye it does not disappoint. You can use turmeric straight, simply stirring the powdered form into things. If you want to make a more traditional dye, dissolve 1 teaspoon turmeric in 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil and reduce by half. Use a little to make things yellow, and more to turn things orange.
Note that saffron also works for the yellow-to-orange section of the color spectrum.