When my daughter was a little girl, we found out she was sensitive to artificial red food dye. She would get severe stomach aches, headaches, and sometimes throw up. As she was growing up, I would
monitor her food intake and especially avoid red dye. Now, she has a five year old daughter who is sensitive to red dye. My granddaughter does not have the severe symptoms like my daughter did. However, after ingesting artificial dye she gets hyper. My daughter
found this out one day when she ordered a Shirley Temple for my granddaughter in a restaurant. There are many articles on artificial food dyes that you can read online. Here is one such article:
Just recently, I came across some blogs showcasing natural food dyes. The blogs about making natural food dye piqued my interest since my daughter and granddaughter can't have artificial red
food dye. Also, I have always loved science and especially science experiments so I was excited to create my own food dyes.
First, I learned you can make natural food dye using a can of beets and just using the juice. You can use vegetables, turmeric, green chlorophyll, and blueberries to make the food dyes. Since
I wanted to make some Halloween cookies, I thought I would experiment with dyes in Lela's Kitchen.
Lela Goes Shopping:
I had some different options I was looking for in the Natural Grocers. I looked for already made food dye in bottles, green chlorophyll, dried beets, dried carrots, and of course fresh vegetables.
Unfortunately, the green chlorophyll was $15.00 a bottle so I only bought the beets and spinach.
I did find the dye online, but decided not to purchase the dye. The India Tree Gourmet dye can be bought online for around $15.00 India
Tree Gourmet Natural Food Dye
I will let you know, that organic food is not cheap. For example, beets were $3.49 for 3 and spinach was $2.99 for a small container. I had some organic carrots at home and blueberries I froze
earlier in the summer. So, I don't remember what the carrots or blueberries cost.
Lela's Natural Food Dye Experiment:
NATURAL FOOD DYE RECIPE
Day One-Prepare the Vegetables:
Boil the vegetables and blueberries in separate pots.
When I make the food dye again, I will cut the carrots and beets into smaller pieces.
I recycle my glass jars and the jars came in handy for making the food dye. Make sure you cool all the ingredients,
then place in clean glass jars. Refrigerate the concoctions overnight.
Day 2-Make the Frosting and the Cookies:
In June, Marianne here on Allrecipes made
some beautiful cookies using the Holiday Butter cookie recipe from King Arthur Flour. She also used the Sugar Cookie Icing from Allrecipes. I admired her beautiful photo of cookies and decided to give the recipes
she used a try. Click on the recipes below to see enlarged versions.
Holiday Butter Cookie Recipe:
HOLIDAY BUTTER COOKIES
SUGAR COOKIE ICING
Make the frosting, then mix some of the pulp (about a 1/2 tsp. to a tsp.) from the jar until you get the desired
color. The carrot, spinach, and blueberry dye will not be as intense as the beets. You are probably wondering why there isn't any yellow. Suggestions on different blogs mentioned using saffron or turmeric. I tried using turmeric and I didn't like the taste
in the frosting. So, I opted not to make yellow food dye.
Lela's Frosting Experiment:
To make blue frosting, use a pinch of baking soda and add some blueberry pulp to the frosting. To make the dark brown/black frosting, use equal parts of cocoa and blueberry, and a pinch of
baking soda. If it is not dark enough, add some more blueberry pulp. Every time I mixed the dark brown/black frosting I got a different hue. The dark brown/black frosting has to mellow for about an hour before it turns darker.
As you can see, the dark frosting does get darker. Here is my granddaughter's ghost outlined in the dark brown/black frosting. We used small squeeze bottles I bought at Walmart to
outline the ghost. Let the dark frosting dry before adding the white frosting to the ghost.
The day we made sugar cookies my granddaughter and I had a fun lunch. My camera died and I didn't get any photos
of my granddaughter making cookies. My granddaughter enjoyed making the cookies. We had a lot of fun, conversation, and laughs as she told me about seeing Frankenstein on Scooby Doo. She was a very good helper and was pleased with her decorating skills. Here
are some of the cookies we made together. I did have to outline a lot of the cookies because my granddaughter said that was too hard to do on the ghost. The orange is darker on the witch's hat because I added some beet pulp. There will be specks of blueberries
in the frosting, but I thought it added to the Halloween Cookies. My daughter and granddaughter ate the cookies without getting any food reactions.
I couldn't taste the spinach, beets, carrots or blueberries in the frosting. So, I am quite pleased with my
science experiment. Yes, it is a lot of work to make the dyes. However, I think it is a wonderful alternative for anyone sensitive to red food dye. The only drawback is you will need to
eat the baked goods right away. I would suggest keeping the baked goods in the refrigerator and not for more than 3-4 days.
I wrote up the recipe and put it in my box for the food dyes. Here it is:
Food Dyes For Frosting Cookies