Natural Pink Food Coloring for a Princess Cake

I’ve mentioned here before that our family does not eat foods containing artificial flavors or colors.  3 out of 4 people in our house feel better this way, and since one of them is me and the other two are my kids, that’s how the food gets made here.  Over several years of eating this way, I’ve learned a few tricks to make our food more fun for those times that call for that.  While no one really needs for food coloring  to be added to things like frosting, it’s definitely more interesting to have it available.  There are some natural food colors available now, but they are expensive, don’t have a long shelf life,  and even more importantly, they have to be ordered through the mail in my small town.  This  means that spontaneous food coloring can’t really happen.  Because of this, we’ve done lots of experimenting with making our own natural colors from ingredients we can easily find locally.  The easiest of these is making pink food dye from beets.

When I first heard about making my own dyes, the instructions I found for pink said simply to reduce beet juice. Now that makes sense, but at the time I had no idea how to do that.  For those new to this, here are instructions for exactly how I do that.  

First, I purchase canned beets.  Open the beets, dumping the pink water into a pan.  For this batch, I used 3 cans of beet juice water.  You can eat the beets, freeze them for later, or as I did with this batch, feed them to the chickens who love everything :).  Here’s a picture of my beet water, which was about 2 cups worth of liquid at this point:

Next bring this mixture to a boil.  I keep the temperature on medium-high until the juice has reduced quite a bit.  I then turn it down a bit and stir it to reduce the last little bit.  It will get all thick and syrup-y.  Here’s a picture at the end:

I put it into a jelly jar to keep- the original 2 cups of liquid reduced to about 3 Tablespoons of food coloring:

 

 

At this point, I keep it in the refrigerator if I’m using it soon or the freezer for longer storage.  

 

The batch I made yesterday was for a specific purpose.  My daughter was making a birthday cake for  a princess- themed  surprise party for a friend and wanted pink frosting.  My daughter tinted all of the frosting a pale pink for the main cake and then added a little more beet coloring to make the deeper pink accents.  Here is her finished cake, which I think turned out very well for a 14 year old- it’s certainly better than I can do :). 

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11 Comments

  1. Colleen Smith said,

    November 11, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Did it make the cake taste like beets? Just wondering!
    Very beautiful cake.

  2. hinzkj said,

    November 11, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Colleen-
    No, it doesn’t make the frosting taste like beets at all. The sugar, butter, and vanilla extract seem to overpower any hint of beet flavor that might be there:).

  3. February 9, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    [...] get the natural pink color I reduced the liquid from a can of beets and added a tablespoon to the frosting. Although, I just found out beet root powder would probably [...]

  4. February 9, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    this worked great: http://heatherkatsoulis.com/cake/
    thanks so much!

  5. Kellie said,

    April 28, 2009 at 6:53 am

    ..did the beets have vinegar in the juice?

    • hinzkj said,

      April 28, 2009 at 7:11 pm

      No, the beets did not have vinegar in the juice. The only ingredients on the can were beets, water and salt. Hope that helps!

  6. Elizabeth said,

    February 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I found this when my niece wanted pink cupcakes and her mom and I were trying to avoid the typical food coloring junk. It worked beautifully! We started with actual beets that we cooked for a while to make beet salad, and then reserved the juice to cook down. Everybody loved it!!

    Thank you for posting this recipe!!

  7. Mimi said,

    June 29, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    That’s a beautiful cake. Despite all my kitchen ambitions at a young age I definitely wouldn’t have been able to make something that pretty when I was 14. Well done to your daughter! :)

    Thanks for the beets tip. I will try it soon in frosting for cupcakes.

  8. wendiwnn said,

    August 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

    thanks for the tutorial! can’t wait to try it out!

  9. mandy said,

    August 31, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Thank you so much my soon to be 5 yr old wanted a princess cake for her birthday and can not have food dyes. I am so going to try this!

  10. christy said,

    September 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this! I am throwing a princess party with all pink food for my daughter. Two of her little friends are allergic to red food dye so I am going to try this! :)


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