Happy May and Happy Celiac Awareness Month!
I look forward to helping increase awareness of Celiac disease all month long with you.
Be sure to check out my Facebook Page where I’ll be sharing a FAST FACT about CELIAC each day in May. I hope you’ll “Like” the page, too, and join in the conversations going on there.
If you’re already following along on Facebook, you saw the super-cute Gluten Free “Watermelon” Cupcakes pic I shared yesterday. Those were a fun idea Little Chef shared with me based on a picture she saw on Instagram.
We already had cupcake liners with watermelon wedges on them, and we’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use them. These “watermelon” cupcakes were a perfect match. We decided to create a gluten free version to share with special friends for afternoon tea earlier this week. What a hit these little cuties were!
I know you’ll love them, too.
When you click over to the recipe, you’ll see more “Notes” than on any recipe I’ve ever posted for you. I am hoping to provide enough ideas and info for substitutions so that as many of you as possible are able to make and enjoy this fun treat. Be sure to check out those linked resources. I believe you’ll find them useful.
I also think you’ll find this how-to post useful, especially when it comes to baking colorful cakes and cupcakes.
That’s because “Where do I find all-natural food coloring for baking?” is the most-asked question I receive from parents and grandparents.
And that’s perfectly understandable considering additives and dyes sneak into many foods we eat and may contain gluten or food allergens like soy, wheat and even shellfish! (If this is a concern, you’re sure to LOVE the Ingredients Inside Section of the site!)
Avoiding traditional food coloring doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy fun foods like my colorful cupcakes with their bright pink cake topped with minty green frosting.
It simply means we must seek out all-natural colors. Several companies offer vegetable-based food dyes.
Of course, in the interest of keeping healthy gluten free living affordable for you, I can’t tell you about any of them. I wouldn’t even accept their offers of freebies to test and share with you. They are pricey! (3 bottles, around $25, shipping not included).
So, for those of you interested in affordable veggie-based dyes for baking, I thought I’d share my how-to for making your own. It’s fun, affordable and totally do-able! Get the kiddos involved and you can even say it’s educational. ;)
DIY: How to Make Plant-Based Food Coloring
1. Gather and prepare fruits or veggies needed for desired colors.
I use trimmings (roughly chopped or sliced) from veggie prep. For example, the outer leaves of red cabbage, the stem end of bell peppers and the peelings from eggplant.
2. Have one small saucepan with about an inch or 2 of water for each color you’re making (or you can wash and reuse the pan if you’re making lots of colors at once).
3. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of the chopped fruit or veggie you’re using to a saucepan with water.
4. Boil until water takes on the color of the fruit or veggie, then continue to monitor and boil until water is reduced by over half. Reducing the liquid this way concentrates the color, so stay with the pan and reduce as much as possible without burning the pan contents.
5. Discard the fruit or vegetable and allow colored water to cool completely before using.
6. Use colored water to tint cake, muffin or cupcake batters as desired.
7. Store unused coloring up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Freeze up to 1 month, then thaw before using.
A Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables for Natural Food Coloring
Our options are endless when creating our own food colorings! Here are a few ideas I’ve tried that work well in most applications. Don’t limit yourself to these, though. Keep your eyes open in the produce section of the market for other colorful options to try! I hope you’ll share your ideas in the comments below.
Pink or Red
Beets, cranberries, rhubarb, pomegranate, red cabbage, red pepper
Orange bell pepper (peachy orange), carrots
Turmeric (fresh or ground), yellow bell pepper (pale yellow), golden beets, saffron (only soak saffron threads in a tiny bit of warm water to cause the threads to “bloom” – do not boil)
Any dark leafy green (like kale or collards), spinach, parsley, green bell pepper
Blueberries, eggplant peeling, blackberries, dark skinned grapes (red, purple or black)
Additional Tips for Making Your Own Food Colorings
- For the darkest colors, use a juicer, if you have one, to extract juices from any of the foods listed above.
- Because they are used in such small quantities, most of the foods listed do not impart any noticeable flavor.
- In some recipes, using mashed or ground fruits or vegetables will work. For example, blend and strain blackberries or raspberries for a puree to add to cake batter for a tasty and colorful end result!
Now, grab the cupcake recipe and bake up some gluten free fun this week! When you do, be sure to come back here and let me know what you made and how it turned out.