Homemade Food Coloring - Healthy and Toxin Free

What would the world be like if everything was black and white? Gloomy. Insipid. Lifeless. Probably so. Colors do affect our moods as well as increase our appetite. Look at little children, for example. They tend to enjoy colorful Trix cereal more than boring shredded wheat, and get more excited to taste a bright rainbow cake rather than a simple coconut pie. In fact, adults are like that, too. Imagine two dishes sitting in front of you: one is a salad filled with colorful slices of carrot, apple and lettuce whereas the other is a bowl of dull-green Greek horta. Both are nutritious and tasty, but most of us will probably go with the salad. Why? It looks more appetizing.

An appetizing appearance, however, sometimes comes with a price. One little drop of artificial food coloring can make your plain vanilla icing turn hot pink in a minute, yet it might be ruining your health at the same time. Don't just assume that you're safe because you don't eat multi-color baked goods or candy very often. Synthetic food coloring can also be found in other types of food including sausages, fruit cocktails and even salmon. First, let's take a look at possible dangers of artificial food coloring, reported in recent research studies. And then let's see how we can make our own homemade food coloring and use basic natural ingredients in the kitchen to color our foods.

Beautiful Poisons - Food Dyes to Avoid

Allura Red AC or Red 17
Asthma, Rhinitis, Cancer, ADHD in children
Snacks,  Sauces, Candies and Soft Drinks
Brilliant Blue or Blue 1
Cancer, Tumors and ADHD in Children
Gelatins, Beverages, Icings, Syrups and Candies
Erythrosine or Red 3
Thyroid Tumors and Chromosomal Damage
Baked goods, Candies, Popsicles and Condiments
Fast Green or Green 3
Allergies, Tumors and Mutagenic Effects
Baked Goods, Gelatins, Sauces, Icings, Vegetables
Orange B
Allergies, Kidney Damage and ADHD in Children
Sausages and Hot Dogs
Sunset Yellow or Yellow 6
Adrenal Gland and Kidney Tumors
Baked Goods, Sausages, Gelatins
TarTrazine or Yellow 5
Asthmatic Attacks, Migraines, ADHD in Children, Blurred Vision and Anxiety
Snacks, Cereals, Jams, Instant Noodles, Cake Mixes and Candies

There are actually a lot more food dyes and additives that might negatively affect your health, but I chose to present these seven "beautiful poisons" because their potential harms have been discussed and studied the most, in Europe and America. Allura red AC, in particular, has been banned in many European countries, such as Denmark, France, Switzerland and Sweden. It seems like the connection between the color red and danger isn't just a metaphor after all.

Do you know what most artificial food dyes are derived from? Petrochemicals and coal tar. That doesn't sound like something humans or even animals should eat, does it? And yet, foods "intentionally contaminated" with those dangerous chemicals are widely available in most supermarkets. Junk food and sodas are not the only culprits. Sometimes sauces, vegetables, meat and fish are dyed with synthetic colors as well.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is one of the main concerns that have raised the question whether or not artificial food coloring should be banned. In 2007, the University of Southampton research team conducted a study on synthetic food coloring and ADHD in children, with double-blinded, placebo-controlled techniques. The trial's participants included 300 children, aged 3 - 9 years old. Astonishingly, the research found that nearly 100% of the children demonstrated higher levels of hyperactivity in their behaviors after consuming foods with artificial coloring.

Besides ADHD, these food dyes have also been linked to other serious health issues including tumors, cancer and various types of allergic reactions. To avoid putting yourself and your loved ones at risk of these illnesses, pay more attention to the labels on the foods you're going to buy. If it contains artificial food coloring, you'd better put it back on the shelf. Opt for food products with natural food coloring instead. Or to be even safer, buy foods that contain no added color at all.

Bringing Color to Your Foods the Natural Way

One thing I would like to assure you about making homemade food coloring is that it is easy! I'm the queen of laziness myself. Just like most modern consumers, I am quite addicted to convenience. That's why I would like to present the following natural food-coloring techniques, which are not too laborious for convenience lovers to achieve. Unlike artificial food coloring, these natural colorants will do no harm to your body and might even improve your health with their abundant nutrients.

Make Purple Food Coloring from Red Cabbage

To make purple food coloring, all you need is one half of a big red-cabbage head. First, chop cabbage into big chunks and put them into a pot of boiling water. The amount of water should be just enough to cover the cabbage. After about an hour, the cabbage should lose its color while the water should turn dark purple. Remove from heat and let cool. Once it is completely cool, discard the cabbage (I saved mine to put in soup or stew). To illustrate the effectiveness of this homemade purple colorant, I used it to make purple steamed rice, by simply replacing water with this natural food dye and then letting the rice cooker do the rest of the job. My steamed rice came out gorgeously purple and didn't smell too much like boiled cabbage. I named it "Riso Purpuraceous."

My "Riso Purpuraceous"

Red Cabbage and Its Cancer-Fighting Nutrients

Anthocyanins or cancer-fighting compounds, which give blue and purple fruits their antioxidant power, are also found abundantly in red cabbage. According to recent research by scientists at the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), red cabbage contains 36 types of anthocyanins that can help prevent cancer, improve cardiovascular health and promote brain function. One cup of boiled red cabbage delivers approximately 4,700 ORAC units (oxygen radical absorbency capacity, the measure of antioxidant power), which is about 50% higher than the minimum amount of antioxidants recommended per day.

In addition, red cabbage is also rich in indole-3-carbinole (I3C), a type of phytochemical that can reduce the risk of breast cancer. It is thus a vegetable women should adopt into their regular diets. Other cancer-fighting nutrients in red cabbage include vitamin A, vitamin C and glucosinolates, which together help battle free radicals and stimulate the body's own natural detoxification enzymes. No wonder many detox recipes use red cabbage as one of the main ingredients.

Make Red Food Coloring from Dried Hibiscus Flowers

My second food-coloring experiment owes its success to dried hibiscus flowers. The process is very similar to what we do with the red cabbage. First, boil 1/2 cup of dried hibiscus with about 10 cups of water. Let it boil for about an hour. Remove from heat, strain and let cool.

I decided to try this homemade food coloring on bow-tie pasta, so I put my red food dye back on the stove and brought it to a boil again. To complete my experiment, I added about 1 cup of farfalle to it and patiently waited for the pasta to be done. It turned out wonderful. Although the hibiscus gave the pasta a tiny bit of a sour taste, it can be rescued easily with the help of robust pasta sauce. I love that vivid red, by the way. The title I gave this artistic invention is "Farfalle En Rouge."

My "Farfalle En Rouge"

Does Hibiscus contain any Health Benefits?

Yes, it certainly does. Hibiscus tea is heart-friendly due to its ability to lower blood pressure. Hibiscus tea drinkers therefore might be less at risk of having heart attacks and strokes. Researchers from Tufts University conducted a placebo-controlled study where participants with high blood pressure were supposed to drink 3 cups of hibiscus tea everyday for six weeks. After the six-week period, it turned out that the participants' blood pressure levels were considerably lower, especially among those who had mild hypertension. As for the placebo group, there was no significant change in their blood pressure levels. Besides its ability to beat hypertension, hibiscus tea also has the potential to prevent cancer, owing to its richness in antioxidants. Moreover, this herbal tea has a cooling effect on the body. That's why some older women use it as a home remedy to relieve the intensity of menopausal hot flashes.

And yet, there are a few cautions to keep in mind. First, people whose blood pressure is already low should avoid hibiscus tea or only drink it in moderation. Second, hibiscus tea is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as it might cause undesirable side effects in the baby or fetus. And third, hibiscus tea might curtail the effectiveness of some medicines such as anti-inflammatory drugs.

Use Turmeric As Yellow Food Coloring

Growing up in Thailand, using turmeric as a natural food colorant is nothing new to me. Turmeric lends its golden shade to a variety of Asian dishes from curries and soups to salads and desserts. Although it has a slightly tart taste and distinctive fragrance, it can be added to desserts without clashing with other ingredients if applied in moderation. In this video, I was up for something quirky, so I used turmeric to give my banana cookies a nice yellow tint. They tasted great! Turmeric did deliver a very mild herbal scent, though the smell of banana was still stronger. You can use turmeric with all types of baked goods or icings. Any aroma enhancers, like vanilla or almond extract, will easily overpower the scent of turmeric. But for me, I actually like how turmeric smells. Unlike cumin and pepper, turmeric isn't too overwhelming at all. In fact, it smells very similar to ginger, which is why I heart it.

See How I Made My Gold Star Cookies with Turmeric

Turmeric's Healing Power

Turmeric has been used in Chinese and Indian herbal medicines for centuries. In India's Ayurvedic study, turmeric is considered a body cleansing herb. In fact, turmeric's therapeutic capacity lies in its orange-yellow pigment called "curcumin." The most potent medicinal property of curcumin is its anti-inflammatory power, which has been proven to be comparable to some anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Phenylbutazone and Motrin. Recent studies even suggest that turmeric might be able to relieve certain inflammatory bowel diseases including Crohn's and ulcerative colitis. And unlike most synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs, turmeric does not contain toxicity that might result in decreased white blood cell count or intestinal bleeding.

In addition, turmeric has high potential to ward off cancer when used with certain herbs and vegetables. For example, curcumin in turmeric and quercitin in onions can team up to decrease the size and number of precancerous lesions in the intestinal tract, which accordingly lowers the risk of colon cancer. Also, curcumin can effectively decelerate the growth of prostate cancer cells when combined with phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.

Turmeric is rarely allergenic to humans. Most people experience no major side effects from turmeric consumption. However, consuming high doses of turmeric for an extended period of time might lead to development of kidney stones, obstructive jaundice and liver disorders.

Learn more about how to include turmeric in your diet.

Use Matcha Green Tea Powder as Green Food Coloring

You probably have seen green tea cakes or ice cream before. Using green tea in desserts is a great way to enhance the look and fragrance. I've heard that some people sprinkle green tea powder over their salads as well. Green-tea potato salad, in particular, has become a kind of "fad food" among health-concerned foodies. You may also make green-tea pasta by boiling your pasta in a pot of brewed green tea, just like how I made my Farfalle En Rouge.

The brand of Matcha green-tea powder that works best as green food coloring is DoMatcha. Sencha is another well-known brand, but from my experience, DoMatcha is much more effective. In this video, I used green tea powder to make my "jade macaroons." It's very easy and doesn't require many ingredients. Watch out for the high amount of sugar and calories, though. Don't go gaga on them. Eat only a few a day.

My Jade Macaroons!

Numerous Health Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea is like an elixir that will protect you from various types of illnesses. First of all, it helps lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. To be more precise, researchers claim that the rate of heart attack could decrease by 11% with consumption of 3 cups of green tea a day. Furthermore, plentiful antioxidants in green tea can prevent many types of cancer. This health benefit has been proven by the fact that cancer rates tend to be lower in countries where people regularly drink green tea, such as Japan and China. For diabetics, green tea may help stabilize blood sugar. For people who are trying to get slim, green tea can facilitate weight loss by speeding up their metabolism.

Since green tea contains a small amount of caffeine, people who are sensitive to caffeine or suffer from insomnia should consume it in moderation. Consult with your doctor whether green tea is appropriate for your condition if you are on antibiotics, Benzodiazepines, Lithium, Ephedrine, beta-blockers or blood thinners. Green tea might counteract against these medications.

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Comments 104 comments

kowality profile image

kowality 6 years ago from Everywhere

This is such a great hub. I'll have to show the painters in the movie biz some of these tricks. Thank You

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks, kowality. Movie-biz people might like the hibiscus trick. Mix it with some syrup to make it look thicker, then use it for fake blood! lol

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago

I'm all for anything natural and this hub gives me lots of ideas on how I can actually make my own coloring. I don't know about purple rice but the pasta looks ravishing in red and the green-tea pasta sounds interesting. Love this hub and thank you.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Purple rice is a bit too weird, huh? lol...I've never made green-tea pasta myself, but my friend brought it to work once and shared some with me. It wasn't so green, but it was good; green tea gave it a very nice smell. Thanks so much for commenting, anglnwu. :)

Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

WOW, I am so IMPRESSED! This is a very interesting and informative hub. I learned so much. I knew that artificial coloring was not good but never realized just how bad or what alternatives could be used. You did an awesome job on this hub. Thanks so much for sharing. I definably would like to try the macaroon recipe maybe for Easter.

I am bookmarking this hub and rating it up as well. Great Job!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Hi, Sage!

I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. It took me almost a week to write this. I'm such a slow writer. I work somewhat like a mule!....As for the macaroons, they tend to get burned easily, so you might want to check them after 10 minutes. And if you'd like to reduce the amount of sugar, just replace 1/2 of the sweetened coconut flakes with unsweetened ones. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting :)

readabook profile image

readabook 6 years ago from Texas

Wow. I can see why it took your a week to write. A fantastic amount of information. Really wonderful.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks, readabook! This hub took a long time to finish but I also had a lot of fun working on it. :)

quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

Thanks for the information. Now I am rushing off to the supermarket to get some red cabbage, and some turmeric powder and some green peas. When I get back I am gonna prepare a colorful meal! Thanks once again! :)

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks for dropping by, quicksand! Now you're making me hungry too :)

Sadako profile image

Sadako 6 years ago

Grrrreat hub! I knew that some coloring may harm our health but I didn't know exactly what could do to us.

By the way, nice recipes...I'll try the red one!!

quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

Pai khin khao! Pai duey kan mai khrap? :)

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

@Sadako - Thanks! Yeah, try it and don't forget to tell me how it turns out.

@Quicksand - Kop khun ka. But it's a bit too late. I'm eating right now! lol

rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay

excellent hub. thumbs up. love the research and details that went into this hub. very helpful and informative on an important subject. thanks for sharing with us! :]

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thank you so much for reading and commenting, rebekahELLE! :)

Tnskeeter profile image

Tnskeeter 6 years ago

Wow! I never really thought about what color can do to my body! Thanks for the insight.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by =D

lyjusinski profile image

lyjusinski 6 years ago from King of Prussia, PA

This is great information and I can't wait to try it out! I was wondering, can any of these natural food colorings be stored to use later?

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

I think the food dyes from red cabbage and hibiscus can be refrigerated for up to a week. The turmeric and green tea powder can be stored for months and months without being refrigerated, as long as you keep the container tightly closed. :)

Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Wow, Om! I have never thought about food coloring being dangerous. Not that I ever use it, however, I know that some pre-cooked food probably contains it. This have been a very good educational hub for me. Thanks for sharing and congrats on being selected in being selected in this week's contest. :)

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks, Money Glitch. It's good that you don't usually use food coloring anyway. I just threw away all my colorful icings and gorgeous cake glitter after doing research for this hub! lol

Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Congratulations on your nomination. Very informative! Good luck!

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

congrats dear! thumbs up!

Lolahi profile image

Lolahi 6 years ago

This is one great hub! Thank you for waking us up!

loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 6 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

great hub i learned a lot today.....thx you

lovememarryme profile image

lovememarryme 6 years ago

I have been worried for some time about the effects of these chemicals in food, but as you say food can be boring without colour. I´ll definitely trying out these natural colours.

Thanks for a great hub.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks for the kind comments, everyone! =D

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Awesome and grest information, I'll use this and love the tumeric organic brand you highlighted, I use it. Peace :)

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Simply Organic? I use this brand, too! Thanks a lot for dropping by, Katie. :)

Gift Experts profile image

Gift Experts 6 years ago

I've been wanting to learn about this. Trying to coordiante some party foods. Thanks for the tips!

Andrew 6 years ago

Cool ideas. I'm gonna try this with the purple corn husks i saved this year. I planted Indian corn, and grew several plants that had dark purple husks.

I like the red pasta too.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

I'm glad you like these little food coloring tips, Andrew. Thanks for stopping by. :)

emmy 6 years ago

thanks thatv has helped me heeps

Namrata Joshi 6 years ago

This was really very helpful.Thanx

Guiding_paths profile image

Guiding_paths 6 years ago from Southwest Michigan

I very much would try this and enjoyed your hub!



jacquelinejewelry profile image

jacquelinejewelry 6 years ago

I love your natural food coloring suggestions. I probably won't use them because I don't do much cooking, but it was a great article. I wasn't aware how bad regular food coloring can be for you. I enjoyed reading your hub and watching the videos.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks! :)

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Wonderful Hub. Informative and beautifully put together. Super job on the videos and photos. I wasn't expecting to see purple rice, but what a great idea, not just for the color but for the nutrients from the cabbage water, which most folks would simply pour down the drain. Up and awesome!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks Sally. I know my purple rice is kind of funky. But like you said, it is super nutritious!

Rebecca 6 years ago

Has anyone tried blue? I'd like to make cookie monster cupcakes for 2 yr old.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

I've heard that we could use blueberries for blue food coloring but haven't tried it yet. I think it might come out more purple than blue anyway. :(

Olive 6 years ago

Very cool, how long does the food coloring keep? A day or two? I'd love to try these in icing for cupcakes, thanks for sharing!!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Green tea and turmeric powder can be stored for several months. But the food coloring from cabbage and hibiscus flowers can be refrigerated for just a few days. :)

PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 6 years ago

These are great ideas! Now I know some more additional ways to use these foods you have mentioned. Thanks.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

You're welcome. Thanks for the read. :)

TattooVirgin profile image

TattooVirgin 6 years ago

How cool I love all natural and look forward to reading more of your work. This bit on how to make food coloring is awesome. thanks

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Hi, TattooVirgin. Thanks for the read and kind comment. :)

Biev 5 years ago

What a cool article. I use the same ingredients for yellow, purple and green, but didn't know about the hibiscus. Beets are also great to color food in pink! I haven't found anything for blue either. It would come in handy for oekaki bento... I'm glad you use WHFoods as a reference, it's such an amazing site

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Thanks for visiting my hub, Biev. Back when I was a kid living in Thailand, I saw my grandma used some kind of blue flower for food coloring, and the food came out really blue. Too bad I don't remember the name of the flowers. And I probably can't find them here in the U.S. anyway.

alispaisley profile image

alispaisley 5 years ago


Great job. Interesting.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author


Vanessa 5 years ago

Just to let you know if you add citric acid from the cooking section in supermarkets to the purple dye from the red cabbage it turns pink, makes great pink icing.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Oh thanks so much for sharing this info. I'll give it a try soon. :)

Judith 5 years ago

Thanks so much! My daughter has a lot of food sensitivities and colors is one of the things we avoid at all cost. Makes birthday cakes a challenge when we have 5 kids! They like to have colored icing, so this gives me some more options!

Curious - any thoughts on getting something blue? I am trying to convince her of pink or purple, but so far blue is the request.

Beet juice makes great pink icing too. You can boil your own beets or use canned if in a hurry. And you still get to eat the beets!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Hello, Judith. Sorry I still don't know how to make natural blue food coloring. I'll give beet juice a try soon. Thanks a lot for sharing. :)

SodaVampire 5 years ago

What about natural dyes for the color blue? I will definitely try the others, but I need to make blue cupcakes for an event and no natural alternatives for blue were mentioned here. Good article!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Sorry, SodaVampire, I really can't help you with the blue. Whenever I discover natural blue coloring, I'll certainly write another article about it.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Important, and well-done! Thanks so much for putting this info in one place and posting. The work behind it is evident! Voted up and bookmarked--definitely worth sharing.

Blueberries will turn other foods blue, I might try blueberry tea sometime, and I understand that red cabbage cooked until it's dark green will yield blue liquid to strain to use as blue food coloring.

RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 5 years ago from Tucson, Az

wonderful article!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

@RTalloni - We can use red cabbage to make blue? From my experience, it usually comes out more purple than blue, though. But I'll definite try to use blueberries. Thanks so much for sharing your tips. :)

@RNMSN - Thanks!

cgarcia 5 years ago

When u use these foods to color like the cabbage will it make your icing taste like cabbage?

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

No, the taste of red cabbage juice is very mild. Other stuff in the cake (sugar, flavorings, spices) will overpower the cabbage taste. So don't worry; your cake won't taste like cabbage. :)

Jennifer 5 years ago

just wondering if the red food coloring would give cake an odd flavor? Also I was reading about the benefits for high blood pressure. My question is, using it as a food coloring does it affect the blood pressure? I take blood pressure medicine with my thyroid meds.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

The hibiscus has a slightly sour taste, so it affects the taste of the food a little but not overwhelmingly so. My red pasta tasted a little odd when I ate it by itself. But after I put some pasta sauce on it, I didn't taste any sourness at all. And yes, there have been a few research studies stating that hibiscus can help lower blood pressure, BUT these research results have not been widely confirmed. Since you're taking blood pressure medications, I think you need to ask your doctor whether it's safe for you to use hibiscus in cooking.

naturman profile image

naturman 5 years ago from UK

This is a great hub. I had no idea regarding the healing powers of turmeric over prostate cancer, one of the biggest killers.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Thanks :)

adpe 5 years ago

I think the original red velvet cake used beet juice as a colorent instead of yucky red food coloring (which affects the taste btw)

adpe 5 years ago

beware of the drug interaction between green tea and some antidrepressants and heart meds if you plan to use concentrated amounts

Maja 5 years ago

Wow. Wonderful informative post. Thank you!

Jessica 5 years ago

This is sooo cool! I have only one question: what about blue?

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

@Jessica - I haven't figured that out yet. Sorry :(

Francoise 5 years ago

Blueberries for blue!

I used beetroots recently to make a pink sugar-icing.

I also considered using spinach for green coloring.

And safran for yellow/orange (but it is more expensive than turmeric).

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

@Francoise - Thanks for stopping by. Yep, beets are also great for pink coloring, and saffron can be used for yellow instead of tumeric. Last time I tried to make a blue frosting with blueberries, somehow it came out more purple than blue. I have never tried making green coloring with spinach, but I think it might work. :)

Erika 5 years ago

Thanks for posting this information, the photos are super! I like the idea of using hibiscus, that pasta looked just stunning. I've used turmeric as a food colourant for alot of years. I like putting it in water and then boiling potatoes. I like making yellow rice, too.

Zaz 5 years ago

We recently discovered that my daughter seems to have a violent reaction to artificial dyes, especially yellow #5. She would just get crazy, agitated and vicious. We changed our foods and she is a different child now. I am addicted to color so this has been very hard for me, but a friend sent me your link through Pinterest. I am so grateful! This is exactly what I needed to bring color back into our food! Her birthday is next month and I see her favorite colors adorning her cake after all! Thank you!

Miranda 5 years ago

Hi, great post. I am looking for alternative food colorings for icing and was wondering what is the shelf life like? Will it go bad? Thanks

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

@ Erika and Zaz - Thanks for the kind words, guys. I'm glad you find this article helpful.

@ Miranda - It should last 2 - 5 days if kept refrigerated.

Jen 5 years ago

Hi Om. The flower you mentioned that your grandmother used was probably a Butterfly Pea Flower. Supposedly, its brilliant blue, a rich source of antioxidants and is used in South East Asian cooking. I'm looking for a blue dye I can use for a fondant and stumbled across your site. No clue yet where I can find that flower, either whole or crushed, but I thought I'd mention it. Best wishes!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

@Jen - Yes! I just googled "butterfly pea flower" and I think that's it! That's what my grandma used. =D

Az 5 years ago

Where do you get the health hazards of the artificial food colors? I know they're bad, but wanted to know the source so I can spread the word with more confidence.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

CP 5 years ago

Red cabbage with a bit of baking soda gives a blue. Probably if you add some baking soda to blueberries, it'll make it more blue too. The blue pigment in plants is pH sensitive - blue when alkaline and red when acidic.

I love artificial food colorings for dyeing yarn (they are actually acid dyes) but I prefer natural stuff in my own body! However, red 40 (E129) is not banned in the EU. It used to be banned in some European countries before incorporation into the EU, and there are voluntary bans in effect for many artificial colors, but red 40 and many other artificial colors are legal in the EU. The EU actually allows more different food colorings than the US!

See this site for food additives allowed in the EU: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/sanco_foods/main/?eve...

DG 5 years ago

Thank you so much for this information!! I have a son who has ADHD and I won't let him have any artificial colors in anything he eats :( Poor little guy doesn't get anything fun like candy for colored icing. This will open up a whole new experience for him. He can now have colorful icing and candy!!! Thank you again!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

@DG - Very cool. I'm glad you're going try these natural food coloring techniques. Hope your son enjoys his healthy colorful foods!

April 4 years ago

Thank you! We make a traditional strawberry cake in our family, but my daughter's favorite color is purple. The frosting is also made with strawberries. I did a puree of half strawberries (for the flavor we want) and half blueberries and that made a dark purple. Mixing it with the white powdered sugar and butter made a beautiful lavender.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips, April! :)

Stephanie 4 years ago

Ohhh ... I feel reprimanded :(

I had NO idea food coloring was so bad for us ?!

I make my kids colored pancakes, cupcakes, pasta, etc, all the time ! Wow, wow, wow ! This must stop !

I am sure I cannot afford all of the alternatives though. Sad :(

Melis Ann profile image

Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

I love that you combine recipe ideas with health benefits! With all the browsing on the internet for this idea I was thrilled to find your wonderful summary and insights on natural food dyes.

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Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

Thanks for the kind words, Melis Ann :)

nita 4 years ago

I love this!

I'm from Indonesia,and you probably know leaves called Suji. We use it for make green food. But, nowadays people just want everything quick so they use food colourings. I made some green cake in my blog as well. This is one of them: http://www.homemades.co.cc/2009/12/pandan-sponge-c...

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Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@nita - Very interesting. Thanks for stopping by. :)

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Great information. I use to use onion skins to dye fabric. I don't think onion skins would work very well in food. Voted Up.

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Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

Wow, I didn't know we can dye fabric with onion skins. How interesting!

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JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

This is a terrific hub! I think it should have been selected Hub of the Day. At any rate, it's MY hub of the day.

Voted Up++++ and shared


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Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@JayeWisdom - Thanks a lot for your kind words and votes. So glad you enjoyed this hub =D

abbaelijah profile image

abbaelijah 4 years ago from Nigeria

ha....... ok

I love this!

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Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@abbaelijah - Cool! Glad you enjoyed the hub!

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Brookefreeman 3 years ago

I found this post via Pinterest and had to comment! My 3 year old has bad allergies towards red dyes. Since we introduced her to solid foods she had constant diaper rashes and my husband swore I just never changed her. My feelings were so hurt. Her first birthday cake had hot pink icing. It was then we first thought there must have been something in the icing she is allergic to. Then after many episodes of sickness etc with no apparent reason, we received Avon colored roll on soaps for kids. Every one of them with red dye had covered her body in whelps! She had also developed horrible asthma (breathing treatments and visits to the hospital repeatedly). When it all came down to it, we realized it was the red dyes. At 3 years old she can tell anyone "I can't have that, it has red dye in it." I never realized before her how horrible this is on our bodies. Not sure if it was hereditary for her to have gotten it because while I do not show signs of being allergic, I have had thyroid cancer, which is also side effects of red dyes. I cannot stress to pay attention to what chemicals are in your products! Even clear soaps (suave kids is loaded with it!) white cake mix, chocolate bars. I can go on and on. So happy to see this post and bring it to the attention of others!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@Brookefreeman - Hi. Thanks so much for sharing your personal story and pointing out how harmful artificial food coloring can be. Your visit and comment are much appreciated!

Miss Crayola profile image

Miss Crayola 3 years ago from Sainte-Marie, QC, Canada

Thank you so much! I would never have thought of doing "safe" food coloring. I have to try this now.

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Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@Miss Crayola - You're very welcome. :)

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iguidenetwork 3 years ago from Austin, TX

This is really great... natural and healthy alternatives in coloring your food. The hibiscus is great for making fake blood, in time for the Halloween. Last year I ate some dragon fruit (the red variety) and I made my folks believe that I had bleeding gums. That could be a good natural food dye too. Thanks for sharing.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@iguidenetwork - LOL That's a funny story. I've never tried using dragon fruit as a natural food colorant, but it certainly sounds interesting. Thanks for visiting my hub and sharing your Halloween experience!

Glutathione PRO profile image

Glutathione PRO 2 years ago

Great piece here! With all the studies coming out on how harmful dye's are for your health, these natural alternatives are great when you need to use it.

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