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The following is part of an Organic Journey Guest Post Series, written by Amy a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers
As I started brainstorming on where I might find natural food colorings, my mind immediately went to this great local cake shop that has an entire section dedicated to food coloring. Surely, they must have some natural options. I headed over and stood in the aisle scanning and skimming all the labels. When I came up short, I finally asked the clerk if they carried any natural food coloring products – nada!
After asking a few more questions, I discovered that the main reason they decided not to carry them is because they are not as consistent or brightly colored as the artificial stuff. I guess if your business is making wedding cakes, that might concern you. But for me, I just want to be able to decorate colorful cookies or make simple birthday cakes without having to worry about reactions my kids might have to the fake stuff. From this point, I knew that I might have to make some compromises in the name of healthier baked goods!
The next stop on my journey was to Whole Foods. Last week y’all commented that they carry the India Tree brand of natural food colorings. Sure enough, I found them…. but I was a little shocked at the price. $20 for a set of 3 liquid .75 oz colors (red, yellow and blue). The good news is the ingredients list on the India Tree colorings is pretty short:
Blue: Deionized water, glycerin, red cabbage
Red: Beet juice, citric acid
Yellow: Deionized water, glycerin, curcumin
I couldn’t find anything negative about glycerin, although the last time I said that we got into a good discussion about carrageenan! Reading the reviews on Amazon it seems most folks who are looking to reproduce the color of artificial dyes are disappointed, just like the lady at the cake shop warned me about. For others that just want an alternative, many folks seem to be happy with these, realizing that the red is really going to be more like pink and the blue is actually more like a pale purple. I stopped by a few other health food stores in my area and the India Tree products were the only thing I could find locally.
Next I decided to head online to see what other products might be out there. I came across Confection Craft Colors, and these come in liquids, pastes or even powders! The shipping is a little steep and even with Jenny’s help I couldn’t find any coupon codes or extra discounts. They are made with spinach, beets, turmeric and other plant-based ingredients. Like the India Tree products, they contain glycerin in the liquid colorings or maltodextrin in the powders. It’s important to keep in mind that all the packaged food coloring I could find was labeled “natural” not “organic”, so you do still have to read labels.
Finally, in my research I came across tons of great recipes for inventive colorful baked goods that you can make yourself. This impressive rainbow cake and a red velvet cake was made using roasted beets. What I love about these is that they are homemade so you are in control of the ingredients! You can also find all the ingredients you’d need at a local grocery store or farmer’s market. The downside, there’s no convenient dropper bottle to just add them to what you were already making.
As we’ve seen in this series, making colorful food in a healthy way is a tradeoff between convenience, cost and what you feel comfortable with. The bright side is that you can find natural food coloring options, you just have to be willing to accept that your icing might not turn out as electric orange.
You all shared some links to fun products and recipes last week and I’d love for the comments this week to be a resource for those looking for alternatives. I have learned so much from you guys!