Ever since my son was born with life threatening food allergies and eczema, we knew that we needed to avoid toxins and eat as natural as possible. I started making everything from scratch, including dairy-free milk, homemade seasonings, and even ketchup, plus making whole food substitutes for things like DORITOS®, marshmallows, and white chocolate chips.
Most of the time I try to keep things simple in the kitchen since my life is really busy, but sometimes I like to have a little extra fun with some food coloring to jazz things up a bit.
But artificial food coloring just isn’t an option for us.
So when my boys wanted some fun chocolate cupcakes for an ice hockey party with blue colored frosting, I sought out a way to make natural blue food coloring…..
What’s Wrong with Artificial Food Colors?
We all know that those artificial food colors are not healthy and are suspected of having links to behavioral and health problems. We have avoided them in our home completely since our son’s diagnosis with autism, but I wish we had done it sooner.
Did you know that a lot of artificial food colors have aluminum in them? When you see, “FD & C Yellow Aluminum Lake” on an ingredient label, you can know that you will be eating aluminum. And if the label doesn’t say “aluminum,” then you might be eating barium or zirconium. No thank you!
Recently my son had a season finale for his ice hockey league (the Griffins Youth Foundation), and each team member was going to be presented with a cupcake decorated with colored frosting to match his uniform. Ugh — my son’s team color was his favorite color, blue. Why couldn’t he have been on the green team? Then I could have used parsley like I did for my Saint Patrick’s Day Fudge.
Well, I initially told him not to get his hopes up — that there was no way that we were going to be able to make blue frosting naturally, but then I found out how. And now I am going to share it with you! You are probably not going to believe what vegetable you are going to use!
- Half-head red cabbage (yes, I said "red cabbage!")
- Baking Soda
- Wash the cabbage and cut out the stem.
- Chop into small pieces.
- Place cabbage pieces in a pot and add water until the cabbage is covered.
- Simmer for 10 minutes and then drain.
- The resulting liquid will be purplish (see photo #1 below).
- Gradually add baking soda, ½ teaspoon at a time, until you get a nice blue hue (see photo #2 below). Be careful, because the baking soda will add flavor to the coloring. If you are using the color for something you will be eating then you need to be especially careful how much you add. Since it is the alkaline quality of the baking soda that causes the red cabbage juice to turn blue, you can also add spinach juice, green tea, or another alkaline ingredient.
- Notes: The color in the cabbage juice, itself is not particularly sensitive to temperature, but the mixture of the baking soda with the juice is. So you will want to add the color after the food item has cooled, or else only add it to food items that will not be heated.
You could use this natural blue food coloring for any of the following:
- dying Easter eggs
- paper mache projects,
- fun creative food ideas (blue mashed potatoes, anyone?), like —
CUPCAKES WITH HOCKEY UNIFORM NUMBERS ON THEM
One other thing to know about natural food coloring is that some of them are prone to fading. The blue wasn’t that deep to begin with (we tried to get the first batch deeper, but ended up with a really bad baking soda taste :-(), but it faded even more in the days following. So if you color frosting for cupcakes, eat ’em up quickly! I’m sure that won’t be hard!
(Money Saving Tip: Use filtered water for cooking the cabbage and then, though it is pretty well boiled, you can still eat the leftover veggies for dinner. Try topping them with my Moroccan Vinaigrette and Chat Masala.)
The top photo, “Blue in the Ware” is copyright (c) 2012 Peter Taylor and made available under a Attribution-Generic 2.0 license.