So, I’m finishing this blog post while staying at one of my happy places….Vancouver Island. More specifically my parent’s place in Nanoose Bay! The ocean, the trees, eagles floating through the sky. Ahhhhhh….it is so peaceful and serene. However, when I first started writing this blog at home, outside our house it was gloomy, rain was falling sideways and at one point it was hailing! On reflection, it was a great reminder that those gloomy days don’t last forever and some days you just have to create your own sunshine while waiting for the ‘storm to pass’ (or for your ferry to depart across the waters. Hehe!). Anyway, creating a little sunshine was exactly what I did while getting creative in the kitchen; making natural food colouring and then… naturally coloured sugar!
DIY natural food colouring might sound WAY too time consuming but it’s a lot easier than you’d think. You cut some veggies, boil them, strain them and then continue to boil this liquid down. The result… a rich coloured liquid, perfect for creating beautifully coloured goodies!
Pink Natural Food Colouring
This is probably my favourite natural food colouring to make. Remember my post on sugar cookies? Here’s a picture of the royal icing colour I was able to achieve by using the beet natural food colouring. Gorgeous! I only needed 1.5 tsp of the beet food colouring in the batch of royal icing to achieve that rich pink.
To make pink natural food colouring:
- take 3 large beets
- chop the beets into bite sized pieces
- place the beets in a pot and cover them with water
- boil the mixture for 45min – 1 hour
- strain the cooked beets reserving the cooking liquid
- return the cooking liquid to the stove, turn up the heat and continue simmering
- allow it to simmer until the liquid thickens and large bubbles appear
- check it frequently as the water can evaporate quickly… leaving you with burnt purple gunk! 😝
- once cooled, store in a the fridge in a small container such as a mini mason jar with reusable lid
For the coloured sugar below it took a few teaspoons in this 1/2 cup of sugar to reach this colour. The number of teaspoons will depend on the strength of your colouring.
Orange Natural Food Colouring
Back when I started experimenting with natural food colouring I read a lot about achieving a yellow colour with onions but I haven’t found that to be the case. I’ve always achieved an orange hue with a browny tinge.
To make orange natural food colouring:
- take 2-3 cups of onion skins in a pot and cover them with water
- bring to a boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes or longer
- strain out the onion skins and reduce the reserved liquid
- simmer until large thick bubbles appear and the mixture has almost evaporated but don’t let it burn!
- take the remaining thick liquid, strain it through a fine mesh sieve and place into a storage container.
Below is the orange naturally coloured sugar that I achieved with the onion skin food colouring.
** Tip** if you don’t have a stockpile of onion skins on hand (who does?!), head to the onion section at your grocer and fill a produce bag with the onion skin bits at the bottom of the display. I usually buy an onion along with the skins for good measure. 😉
Yellow Natural Food Colouring
This is the easiest natural food colouring to make. The turmeric is already in powder form and all you need to do is add enough liquid to form a thick liquid.
To make yellow natural food colouring:
- mix 1 tsp of turmeric to 2 tsp water.
I’ve also seen a creative genius use vodka instead of water when they didn’t want to add liquid to whatever they were colouring. The theory being the vodka will evaporate fairly quickly without compromising the texture of the end product.
I achieved this yellow sugar by adding roughly 3 tsp of the natural food colouring to the 1/2 cup of sugar.
Green Natural Food Colouring
Green natural food colouring is a bit more of a process but not by much.
To make green natural food colouring:
- Take a large handful of spinach, place in a small pot and add a small amount of water
- Heat until the spinach has wilted then remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.
- Next, take the mixture, place it in your blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the pureed mix through a sieve and place the strained liquid back into the pot.
- Reduce the liquid to a thick bubbly consistency, watching carefully so it does not burn.
- Once reduced and cooled, place the liquid in your storage container of choice.
- My favourite containers are these mini mason jars with reusable lids – love them!
Again, the amount you’ll need to achieve the colour you want is always up to your own preference! The photo below took just over a tablespoon of natural food colouring to achieve this hue.
How to Make Coloured Sugar
Coloured sugar is great to have on hand. It’s perfect for cookie decorating, adding to fancy cakes and even a fun centre piece in your favourite glass vase! Making coloured sugar is even easier than making the natural food colouring.
To make the coloured sugar, take 1/2 cup of sugar, mix in your desired amount of food colouring, mix well and then spread it evenly onto a lined baking tray. Allow the sugar to dry completely for a couple of hours or even overnight and once dry you may need to use your fingers to break up any sugar lumps. After that simply store in an airtight container and you’ll have it on hand when needed. To be honest I’m not sure what the shelf life of these coloured sugar is but I plan to test it out and when I have a better idea I will update the blog!
Hope you have as much fun making these as I did!