How to Use Beets for Natural Red Food Coloring
Valentine’s Day is just a few short days away, which means that all things red and pink are in full force. Pink buttercream! Red velvet cake! Pretty pink drinks! But when it comes to food coloring, the artificial stuff is bad news. I wanted to share a super easy way to use beets for a natural, preservative/chemical-free pink or red dye. Obviously you can just use a juicer to extract the beet juice, but if you a) don’t have a juicer, or b) don’t want to dirty up your juicer for just a few tablespoons of juice, read on…
There are different varieties of beets that vary in color from white to deep red. The deep purple-y red ones are the most common, but medium red and golden beets are sometimes available at stores, too. You can experiment with different varieties to find the color best suited for your project or recipe! One medium beet usually produces close to 1/4 c (2 oz) of juice.
What you need:
grater or food processor
fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth
small bowl or liquid measuring cup
gloves (optional, but highly recommended)
How to make it:
Before you start: put on gloves! Beets will dye your hands!
1. Remove greens from beet if still attached and reserve for later use (they are very closely related to Swiss chard). Wash beet, scrubbing to remove any remaining dirt.
2(a). If using a grater, cut beet in half. Grate beet, including peel.
2(b). If using a food processor, roughly chop beet into chunks and add to food processor. Pulse until smooth.
3. Press grated or processed beet through a fine mesh strainer with a metal spoon into a bowl or measuring cup. Alternatively, place beet on a double or triple layer of cheese cloth. Gather cheese cloth and twist to squeeze out juice.
4. Immediately add beet juice to recipe as desired or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reserve beet pulp for stir fry or soup!
Start by adding a small amount of beet juice and add more gradually until desired color is reached.
I’ve found that the juice is a little more magenta than primary red, so it may not produce a perfectly red color if that’s what you’re going for.
For the pictured cake, I used about 3 Tbsp of beet juice for 3-4 c of buttercream.
Warning: beets can also dye your insides temporarily. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from that 🙂