A cake here, a bake there-an icing here, a dip there! If you find cooking therapeutic then you must have searched for options that make your meal visually more pleasing than it already is. Whether it is your go to food for comfort or a lavish supper-food coloring has prevailed over centuries to beautify the final product at hand and make it look appealing. As much as we appreciate the vibrancy that food dyes offer, we cannot turn a blind eye towards the adverse effects that synthetic dyes have on our health. After conducting rigorous research, it has been brought to light that chemicals used in manufacture of artificially produced colors are highly toxic and carcinogenic to some extent. Awareness surrounding this factual research resulted in consumers consciously choosing natural colors and food color manufacturers looking for more viable options to explore sources of natural food colors. Natural food colors are effective, can effortlessly replace synthesized dyes and are easy to create. Imagine, a little effort and you yourself can create your own organic food colors. Every day ingredients that have a permanent or semi-permanent place in your kitchen can be utilized for sourcing natural colors.
FRUITS-SOURCING JUICY DYES NATURALLY
Choosing the right fruit for purposeful usage is crucial. Berries are considered to impart solid colors when compared to citric fruits like an orange as an orange is not as opaque as the berries are. Bright colored fruits do not always give out brighter shades for this reason.
A simple test to choose the fruit is by pouring its juice into a glass and examining as to how much the light passes through it. If the light passing through the glass is minimal, your food color is going to be brighter and vice versa. The most familiar examples are blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries that impart shades of purple, red, blue and pale pink respectively.
Food dyes made out of fresh fruits are fully prepared from the pulp of the fruit itself.
Removal of peel and seeds smoothens the process of liquefying the fruit in a blender or a food processor. By pouring the contents through a cheesecloth or a mesh sieve, the right consistency is brought out as miniscule seeds, fiber and heavy pulp are filtered out. Remember to use an intricate sieve for the straining process as the residue tends to pass through bigger sieves.
Certain dishes demand a pulpy feel, which means you can skip the straining process.
Certain fruits like berries contain residue in the form of fiber or skin which makes it almost impossible to separate from the blend. In such cases, you may consider boiling or juicing it instead of using a food processor or a blender. By heating the strained contents in a saucepan, you can further achieve an intense food color but it will also contain a concentrated flavor. For this reason, one must add the final product slowly to test the color and taste.
VEGETABLES-DERIVING FOOD DYES FROM EASY INGREDIENTS
Choicest vegetables determine the depth of color-single pigmented vegetables, especially root-based are most preferred as they contain deep shades like beetroots and carrots. Make sure the vegetables do not hold high water content as they produce light shades. There’s a vast difference between sourcing food colors from vegetables and fruits as fruits contain pulp that is responsible for the intensity of colors.
Water plays a pivotal part in determining the desired shades as dilution takes place if a lot of water is used. If the boiling takes place in minimum water, the shades will be darker.
An important factor to consider while choosing the vegetable is-if the vegetables stains your bare hands, it will be easiest to extract color from it. Boiling certain vegetables helps in obtaining rich shades as the color disperses itself when heated in water. Beetroots and red cabbage are the apt examples as they disperse shades of reddish pink and purple respectively when boiled.
Another method for extraction of colors is to dehydrate your choice of vegetables. It is tedious but somewhat preferred by many. It is considered tedious as this process demands either using an oven or a food dehydrator which is not easily available. The shelf life of dehydrated vegetables can last anywhere between multiple months and a year by storing them in airtight containers. Before dehydrating big sized vegetables, it is important to slice them thin and then proceeding further by putting them inside a pre heated oven for roughly 4 to 6 hours.
Once your sliced vegetables have cooled down, you may grind them into a powder as this form of application keeps the color and flavor of your dish intact. A food processor or a coffee grinder are the best appliances that grind the dehydrated vegetables into a fine powder.Make sure that the utensils used are deprived of any moisture as this can affect the quality of your food color. Also, remember to clean the grinder after each use as you would not want any residue to impact your food color.
With an increased consciousness, there are quite a few retailers that sell an already dehydrated and powdered form of vegetables. You can acquire these ready products while keeping in mind that they are raw and not seasoned or flavored. This is crucial as a flavored powder may compromise the look and feel of your desired dish. Before adding these products to your dish, keep in mind to add water little by little as, previously mentioned, dilution cannot be undone. By evenly adding water, you have full control over the saturation of the color.
The most commonly used and easily available powdered food color is stale turmeric. Stale turmeric powder loses its flavor and easily blends into the cooking process.
Key factors to keep in mind while choosing the accurate source of your food color dye:
Whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable, while going through the extensive procedure to bring out desirable hues, one must not forget about the flavors that are incorporated naturally.