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DIY Fruit and veggie food colouring

By: Information sourced from

We've all been to parties where there's one kid screeching loudly around the room and the only PC thing to do is shrug it off and blame the food colouring. The excuse that it's the food colouring and not horribly bad behaviour might be short lived with more parents electing to use natural vegetable-based colours as an alternative. There is a price tag attached to clearing out the petroleum-based food colours with natural vegetable colouring. It costs almost 6 times more to buy the natural colour and it's not always easy to source. You can make your own however and with just a few days left of school holidays, we thought it may be fun to task the kids with making their own food colouring to use at their next party.

What to consider when making all-natural food colours

To achieve the same concentration of colour as you would with artificial colours you must first concentrate the dyes by making vegetable powder or vegetable syrup. It's simply not enough to add a couple of drops of beetroot juice into, for example, cake icing and expect to get the same hot pink you can expect from a few drops of petroleum based pink colouring. Nor can you keep adding beetroot juice to reach the desired colour as that would spoil the taste and texture of the icing. For vivid colours the best way is to turn the vegetables into a power or reduce the liquid down to a concentrated syrup.

To make natural colouring powders

This is super easy in either a vegetable dehydrator or oven. Set the temperature to 60 degrees Celsius, slice bright coloured vegetables thinly using a mandolin and arrange them on a baking tray. Dehydrate until fully dry which can take between 2 - 6 hours depending on the vegetable. Berries and herbs can be dehydrated whole.
Once dried you simply grind the dried veggies and fruit into a fine powder and store in dry airtight containers in the pantry.

To make natural colouring syrups

Vivid colouring can be achieved when you turn deeply coloured liquids, such as beetroot juice or the juice from purple sweet potatoes, into a syrup. It takes a long time therefore a slow cooker works well. To make the concentrate pour 1 cup of freshly squeezed juice into a slow cooker, remove the lid to allow the liquid to evaporate, and cook at a very low temperature for about 24 hours or until it reduced down to a quarter of its original volume (about 60ml). Once made you can mix it with vegetable glycerine* in a ratio of 2:1 (colouring: glycerine). Store for 2 - weeks in a tight lidded jar in the fridge.

*Note: Vegetable glycerine or glycerol, is a clear, odourless liquid produced from plant oils, typically palm oil, soy, or coconut oil. Palm and coconut oils are natural triglyceride mixtures; each triglyceride is composed of three fatty acids esterified with glycerine

Vegetables and fruit colours






Red cabbage juice with a little baking soda

Purple sweet potatoes
Blueberry juice

have fun!


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