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 :).