If you'd like to ditch those little bottles of brilliantly-hued artificial dye in favor of something a little closer to nature, there's hope. In a recent Fine Cooking article, Ellie Krieger recommends we head to the produce section.
Krieger's idea is to use fruit purees and juices to give color to frostings and other foods. Not only do foods like mangos and blueberries lend their color naturally, but they also give foods an extra nutritional boost. And who couldn't use a little more fruit in their diet?
I've experimented with things like beet powder and concentrated pomegranate juice before, and I'm curious to try some of Krieger's other suggestions. For a batch of pink cupcake frosting, she boils down raspberries. For purple, she recommends grape juice concentrate. The colors are lighter and more pastel than when using artificial dyes, but this is a trade-off I'm willing to make for fewer chemicals in my cupcakes.
The article doesn't mention how much these natural dyes affect the flavor of the finished treat. Raspberries are a perfect pairing with vanilla cupcakes, but I'm wondering if using spinach to tint icing green might require a more strongly flavored baked good to back it up.
Have any of you experimented with natural dyes like these? What are your thoughts?
• Read the Article: A Fresh Look at Food Coloring by Ellie Krieger, Fine Cooking (Issue #116)
Related: Red Velvet Cake Conspiracy! Plus a Modern, Dye-Free Recipe
(Image: Airy Angel Food Cupcakes with Naturally Pink Frosting/Faith Durand)