My colleague Rebecca (who writes the Shoptimist blog) yesterday sent me an intriguing link to a recipe for red velvet cake made with beets. Beets! It may seem strange at first, but it made perfect sense to me when I stopped to think about it.
Store bought food dyes are approved by the Food & Drug Administration, but that doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence. They are still basically synthetic, with names like FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2. Yummmmmmm!
These days, we are seeing a return to old food ways. More people are gardening, more people are canning and otherwise preserving, and more people are interested in things like raw milk or fermented teas. So why shouldn’t we borrow a page from the Native Americans, who knew how to color fabrics and other items with natural ingredients such as flowers, vegetables and tree bark?
The beet cake is just the beginning. Beets can infuse all sorts of things with their lovely hot pink/red hue. And according to this recipe, the red velvet cake has no lingering beet flavor. Here are a few other clever ideas I found:
* Mash one half of an avocado into standard white icing for a pastel green color and a fluffier texture.
* Combine the juice of blackberries and blueberries (strain out the pulp and seeds) to create a purple hue.
* Mix in raspberry juice (again, after straining) for pink.
* Use stale turmeric to color foods yellow. They say stale because the stale spice has lost a lot of its flavor. So be careful about adding unwanted flavors with this tip.
* Blueberry juice for blue.
* Simmer red cabbage in water and use the liquid for blue.
If I come across any other ideas, I will pass them on. And I would certainly like to hear from anyone who has tried one or more of these natural methods.