Homemade Natural Blue Food Coloring
Today I am sharing something that I never thought I would make -- a Homemade Natural Blue Food Coloring Recipe.
Ever since my son was born with life threatening food allergies and eczema, we knew that we needed to avoid toxins and eat as naturally as possible.
I started making everything from scratch, including dairy-free milk, homemade seasonings, and even homemade ketchup, plus making whole-food substitutes for things like DORITOS®, homemade 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.....
Now, I'd found other ways to use natural items to make natural food color, like in my Mint Fudge and Easter Fudge, but blue natural food coloring was a new challenge for me.
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 of 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!
Why I Made This Coloring
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 Mint Fudge.
Or if he'd been on the Purple Team or Red Team, I could have used the colorings in my Fun 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!
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 Decorated with Hockey Uniform Numbers
I think they turned out great, and my kids did too! I'll be sharing the vegan cheesecake cupcakes and peppermint icing recipes in the near future.
Chocolate and mint are one of my favorite combos.
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.
Here is the natural blue food coloring in a bowl:
And here is how to make it:
Homemade Natural Blue Food Coloring
- 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.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.
(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 Chaat Masala.)
Don't Feel Like DIYing?
If you'd rather not have to make your own natural blue food coloring or would like an option that will work for an acidic recipe, here is a link to another good natural blue food coloring.
The top photo, “Blue in the Ware” is copyright (c) 2012 Peter Taylor and made available under a Attribution-Generic 2.0 license.
What will YOU use this Natural Blue Food Coloring for?
Natural blue colour contains spirulina and Fruit juices.
There are actually several options for natural blue coloring but that is one interesting one for sure!
Hello, what a great idea!
Do you think I can make the icing & spread them on cupcakes the night before as you mentioned that they do fade?
Hi there - Thanks for the kind words!
They don't fade---the issue is only if the pH of the icing would be affected in some way.
You clearly have no idea the minute amounts of aluminum that are in food coloring, nor do you understand the concept of bioavailable vs. insoluble salts of metals. Before you disparage people much, much, much more educated and intelligent than you, perhaps you should learn something about what you're saying is "bad". You do a disservice to everyone when you spread untrue, illogical propaganda. But thanks for the half-assed attempt at making something blue.
Hi Mike! Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, I do have a good idea of the minute amounts of aluminum are in food coloring. Of course it's not tons. Are you aware of the cumulative effect of ingesting / being exposed to metals? You might wish to read this post. https://wholenewmom.com/heavy-metals-in-cosmetics/
Please do tell me whom I was disparaging and tell me about the bioavailable vs insoluble salts of metals. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Regardless, I will still prefer natural over artificial. I think my blue looks pretty good. And I have more ways to do it now too. None of them using artificial colors. I think using artificial colors is half-*&*ed and that my way is better, but then that's just me. I do think that others here would agree as well.
By the way, coming to a blog and commenting with this kind of rudeness is really unacceptable and well, rude. The world has enough garbage going on. I would appreciate it if you check your heart before responding. Thank you.
Mike, I don’t understand why it upsets you so that people are trying to avoid toxic metals, even if they are in trace amounts? How in the world can you call this disparaging?? Artificial food dyes are also likely contributors to ADHD symptoms and some of them are shown to be carcinogenic. Even if the evidence is limited, why risk it for something completely without nutritional or flavor value? Maybe you are just frustrated at how toxic the world has become. Don’t add to it though with that energy, bro!
My son has an aluminum allergy, and he has friends with allergic reactions to certain food colourings - I am encouraged to find posts like this. It's a difficult allergy to diagnose. Someone who takes the time to write disparaging comments to a mother for replacing food dyes with vegetable colours...that person has lost their soul (and probably their mind). Poor fellow.
Just use blue spirulina, Walt White.
I've heard about that and other options too. I don't think that was necessarily on the market when I wrote this, however.
Hello, thanks for sharing your method. I live in Singapore and we use butterfly blue-pea flowers to dye our cakes/cookies/rice blue, it’s a South East Asian thing to do. It’s also rather nutritional. Are they available where you are? They are very easy to grow.
I have heard about that...I think more and more you can get them here but it's only recently that I heard about them. Thanks for haring!
Have you tried mixing spirulina powder with water & filtering? This is what some blue food colourings are made from & is all natural! It looks much more vibrant!
I haven't tried that--great idea!
So have you done this yourself? I looked around on the internet and seems it's not a common thing.
It is not working with butter icing 🙁 and I need a color blue theme for my cupcakes 🙁
Hi there - can you tell me the ingredients in the icing, please?
This is a lovely quick recipe, thank you for sharing it with us. Have a fantastic day!
Thank you and you are so welcome!!
I’m throwing my boys a beach birthday party and want to make “ocean water” or a blue drink. I dont Really want to use food coloring or blue Gatorade. The recipes I’ve seen use lemon lime soda (I was lime Thinking la croix ) . Anyways, would this work with a sparkling water + sugar drink? Maybe a lemonade drink? Too acidic?
The acid in the drink will cause it not to work so I would try another option - I'm going to put some in the post today hopefully . sorry about that! Could you do a La Croix with a berry flavor instead possibly?
These look SO COOL!
Question: I wanted a soft purple color for my icing - should I crush blueberries or boil them like you did the cabbage? Thanks!
Thanks! For blueberries I don't think you would have to boil them--just crush them and use the juice. Hope that helps!
Why not use blueberries ?
That's an option too!
Trying to decorate a baby shower cake.what happens when trying to use this recipe for cream cheese frosting?
Hi there. Cream Cheese is moderately acidic so I don't think it would stay blue -- the other ingredients would mitigate the acidity but just not sure it would work.