Sometimes if you don’t think about something, you can live in a happy and blissful land of ignorance. I’m sure if we never looked into vaccines, we would have vaccinated all our kids. And I know that if I hadn’t started looking into food, I wouldn’t be desperately trying to find ways to make small but steady changes on a budget. One way I recently tried adapting food was using natural food coloring for cookie icing. The results? A mixed bag. But here are a few tips and links if this is something you want to try.
For my friend Natalie’s baby blessing, I wanted to try natural food coloring. Her daughter is very susceptible to food coloring of any kind, meaning their family makes big adjustments all the time. Many children are affected by dyes, especially the reds and yellows. We were using pink and orange as a theme, so I tried using beets and carrots for color. I cooked both, then blended and used a coffee filter to strain out the juice. Simple, but definitely a few more steps than normal food coloring, which is super convenient. (But also full of icky stuff I generally pretend I don’t know about.)
In hindsight, I should have incorporated the fruit juices more into my royal icing recipe AS I made it, not dropping it in after the way I do with non natural food coloring. The carrot especially needed a LOT of juice to create an orange color in the icing. I ended up settling for a light pinky-orange because I was losing my consistency and fast. Beets, being amazingly bright, very easily made a nice pink without making the royal icing run. While the carrots…well, you can see how they worked. For sure I should have used the carrot juice instead of water when making the icing. But I still don’t think it would have been a vibrant orange. Maybe with some beet juice mixed in? And if you’re wondering, the icing did NOT taste like carrot or beet.
If you want a good reference point for starting, here is a post I read that helped inform my choices. I am looking forward to exploring this area more, as for now, it’s just too easy to fall back on the old faithful. The colors with natural dyes aren’t as true as ones you’ll get in a bottle and made with chemicals, but the tradeoff in the end might just be too good to pass up.
Have you tried any natural replacements in the kitchen? Leave a link or comment below!