Beautify Your Desserts with These All-Natural Food Dyes

Avoid cancer-causing dyes with these natural alternatives

Shutterstock / MAHATHIR MOHD YASIN

Natural food dye options are often as simple as extracting vibrant colors from foods like beets, turmeric, and spinach.

Many foods contain colorants, like Red 40, that are considered safe by the FDA despite studies showing that artificial dyes may be carcinogenic. While the government allows beautiful but possibly dangerous colored foods to sit innocuously on shelves at the supermarket, some food producers have taken it upon themselves to remove harmful dyes from their products. When baking at home, feel free to use all-natural alternatives to artificial dyes.

Click here for the all-natural food dyes (slideshow).

On the bright side, staying away from potentially harmful artificial dyes like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1 doesn’t mean you are doomed to eating dull, colorless food. Your favorite red velvet cake recipe just needs a tweak to go from artificial to all-natural. Natural food dye options are often as simple as extracting vibrant colors from foods like beets, turmeric, and spinach.

While it might seem strange to add vegetables to your sweets, rest assured that you are just lending your baked goods these vegetables’ vibrant colors — not their flavors. In addition to certain brightly colored fruits and vegetables, spices make an excellent natural food dye because they contain so much concentrated pigment.

Boil, purée, or dissolve the natural colorants in vinegar depending on your recipe, and you will have naturally colored desserts in no time.

Beets

Photo Modified: Flickr / woodleywonderworks / CC BY 4.0


Beets come in a variety of colors, including deep red and bright yellow. Use red beets to deliver a dramatic hue to your favorite red velvet cake recipe.

Blueberries

Thinkstock / Fuse


When you are devouring fresh blueberries at the farmers market, pay attention to how the juices dye your fingers a pale blue.  Use blueberries to turn your favorite vanilla buttercream a soft shade of blue.

Angela Carlos is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her @angelaccarlos on Twitter.
 

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