Red food color is widely used in red velvet cake, rainbow cake, and colorful cookies and frostings. However, the food color that we get from the market is usually made with chemical ingredients. But did you know that you could make red food color from natural sources? These natural substitutes for red food coloring can be easily made at home. Below are some of the best options.
Best Substitutes For Red Food Coloring
Artificial food coloring imparts color to the food without affecting its taste. But the natural colors have flavors too. If used properly, they can add to the deliciousness of your meals. Try out one of these natural red food colorings in your next recipe.
1. Beet Juice
Beet’s red-violet color adds a nice touch to the recipes. You can buy pure beet juice from the market, or make it at home. The process is simple.
Take 3 beets and remove their roots. Then grate them or chop them into small chunks. Put these chunks into a pan and add water only enough to cover the beet pieces. Bring this mixture to a boil and then let it simmer at medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes. During this time, the water will turn deep red and the beet chunks will turn soft.
Filter out this water and use it as food coloring. It’ll give a light pinkish or red color depending on the amount you use. You can also crush and strain the softened beet chunks to obtain color. This liquid will have an intense red color and savory and earthy flavor.
2. Red Freeze Dried Fruits
You can work with red freeze dried fruits and berries to get a delicious, flavor-packed alternative to red food coloring. It is generally fresh fruits that find use for this packaging, so the flavoring and taste can sometimes be better than other options.
While there are plenty of red fruits and berries available, some choices are:
- Goji berries
- Dragon fruit
You may get any of these individually packed, or perhaps a mix bag of a few of these ingredients. Toss them frozen into a blender and let it run until you get a good consistency of powder or paste. This powder or paste has plenty of uses in cooking, including for sauces, frosting, and batter.
Note that though these will add a red color to the food, it is usually not as bright or deeply hued as artificial food coloring. Although, fruits still are a tastier and healthier option. Given their flavoring and use, this substitute works best for recipes that contain a fair amount of fruits.
Cranberries are used as flavoring agents in desserts and other recipes. But did you know it is a coloring agent too? You can buy cranberry juice or prepare it at home.
Put 2 cups of fresh cranberries in a pan. Add just enough water to cover the berries and let the mixture boil. Then, turn down the heat to medium and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. The cranberries will soften and the water will turn pink or red, depending on the berries.
Crush the cranberries in the pan using a fork and mix it well. Let the mixture simmer for another 20 minutes. Then, filter out the liquid using a mesh or a cheesecloth and use it as a red food color. Store the extra in the fridge for longer shelf life.
Cranberries have a tarty flavor with hints of sweetness. It pairs up well with desserts, soups, and pasta recipes. When using cranberry juice in beverages or desserts, you can add some sweeteners for better taste. It adds a dark pink or red color to the food, depending on the amount you use.
4. Fresh Pomegranate
You can use pomegranate juice to add some color to your meals. This juice is available in the market and can be prepared at home too.
Take half a cup of fresh pomegranate seeds and half a cup of water. You can increase or decrease the amount as needed. Put the seeds and water in a pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Then let it simmer under medium flame until the water turns deep red. You can filter out the water and use it as a red food color.
Or, you can crush the seeds with a crusher or a fork, or blend them in a food processor. Then strain the mixture to take out the red liquid. The juice obtained directly from the seeds will have a more striking color and flavor than the filtered water. Store them in the fridge and use them whenever needed.
Pomegranate juice has an intense taste that goes well with desserts and beverages. It can also be used as a coloring agent in soups and salad dressings.
5. Beet Powder
If preparing beet juice is too much work for you, you can buy beet powder instead. It is a reddish powder obtained by grinding dried beet.
Mix ¼ teaspoon of this powder with 1 teaspoon of cold water and mix it properly. Then strain the mixture and filter out the red-colored water. This derived liquid can be used as a red food color.
The powder will also add hints of savory and earthy taste. So if that won’t fit well with the flavors of your recipe, use the powder in small amounts.
Beet is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is also a good source of fiber, magnesium, and potassium in your diet.
Cherries are a favorite flavor of many. And they produce good food colors too! There are two ways by which you can make red food color from cherries.
First, take the cherries in a cheesecloth or muslin and squeeze them to obtain the red juice.
Or, you can make a puree by putting the cherries in a food processor. Then put the puree in a cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice.
The second method is more efficient and gives more intense color and flavor. But you can try either of them to obtain red food color from cherries.
This red food color can be used in desserts, ice-creams, and cookies. It is best used in cherry-flavored recipes.
Cherries have anti-inflammatory properties and are a good source of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamin C.
7. Hibiscus Flowers
Usually, we use dried hibiscus flowers to obtain the color. You can get them in grocery stores or supermarkets. Just take the dried flowers in a pan and cover them with water.
Let the mixture simmer for 20 to 25 minutes during which the water will turn red. Filter out this water and let it cool. It’ll attain a dense consistency as it cools and can be used as a red food color.
If you can’t get the dried ones, you can use fresh hibiscus flowers to make food color. However, this will result in a pink or light red color.
This food color will also have a mild earthy flavor that goes well with desserts. But you can also add it to savory recipes.
Why And How To Make Red Food Coloring Without A Fuss
The food color that we get from the market is usually made with chemicals. These chemicals can break down and inactivate the nutrients in our food. Also, it can induce many allergic reactions in some people.
Natural sources of food color are healthy and risk-free. They give the desired effect without affecting the nutrient content of our food.
You can follow the simple steps above to obtain food color from these natural sources. Keep these colors in the refrigerator for prolonged shelf life.
Include Natural Ingredients In Your Diet
Who doesn’t like rainbow cakes and colorful cookies? And when these colors are added by using natural and healthy ingredients, it’s a bonus! Now that you know how to make red food coloring without artificial ingredients, you can bid adieu to chemical-based food colors. Use these natural substitutes for red food coloring for healthy and tasty recipes.