Expressive colors make the food look fresh, appetizing and attractive. Food coloring is a great way to encourage consumers to buy a particular product. Although we are not aware of it, the color of a product has a huge impact on how we perceive its taste. However, while natural food dyes are completely safe for our health, it is completely different in the case of synthetic dyes. Consuming them in large amounts can be dangerous to our health – therefore the amount of dyes added to products is regulated by legal acts. What are synthetic dyes used for? Why is it worth reading the ingredients of the products carefully? How to make natural food dyes at home? You will find the answers in the article!
Food dyes – application
Artificial food colors are added to foods for a number of reasons. First of all, they are to restore the original color of the food, which it has lost through processing. Sometimes it is also about changing the color of the product to be more attractive and eye-catching. Unfortunately, in some cases, dyes are used to hide product flaws.
Types of food dyes
Most food colors, both natural and synthetic, are available in many forms. Here they are:
- Liquid dyes – are the most commonly used. They are mainly used in the confectionery industry, for coloring cake mass, whipped cream or dough. These dyes are available in a whole range of colors.
- spray dyes – a liquid spray dye, usually used to color the surface of cakes.
- gel dyes – they are very efficient and easy to use. The gel dyes can be diluted with water or alcohol.
- powder dyes – they can be used both dry and wet. Powder dyes are used both to decorate baked goods and to refresh food colors.
Coloring markers, edible glitter and flake dyes are also available in stores. Online stores offer the largest selection of colors. Remember, however, that most ready-made food dyes contain substances that are harmful to health. Therefore, it is worth preparing dyes using home methods.
Synthetic food dyes – are they harmful to our health?
Synthetic food dyes are a diverse group of chemical compounds (azo, indigoide, xanthene or trialylmethane). It is worth knowing that artificial dyes are harmful, especially for children – they can cause behavior changes, problems with concentration, anxiety and hyperactivity. Below you will find a list of the most harmful dyes. Unfortunately, their use is allowed in the countries of the European Union:
- cochineal red – causes hyperactivity in children, increases the symptoms of asthma.
- quinoline yellow – releases histiamine, which causes hives, allergies and allergies.
- sunset yellow – increases asthma symptoms, causes breathing problems and abdominal pain.
- tartrazine – can cause hives, headaches and runny nose. It is conducive to the occurrence of depressive states. Even small amounts of this substance can be dangerous.
- Allura red – causes hyperactivity and allergic reactions.
- carmiosin – irritates the stomach.
- azorubine – causes redness, inflammation and swelling.
What products are the above dyes added to? We find them mainly in sweetened drinks, jellies, puddings, chewing gums, sweet dragées, lollipops, jelly beans, ice cream. Unfortunately, these are products that we often give to children – remember that they are the ones most exposed to the adverse effects of food dyes. Before we decide to buy a specific product, it is worth reading its composition carefully.
Natural food colors – how do they work?
Natural food dyes are divided into: mineral, vegetable and animal. Naturally sourced dyes have been used in the kitchen for centuries. They are obtained by extracting (isolating) specific substances from, for example, plants. Most of them are completely safe for our body. What’s more, some natural food colors have a beneficial effect on our health. Below is a list of natural food colors used in industry:
- riboflavin – occurs naturally in the human body. As a dye, it is harmless to our health. It is used to color cheeses, yoghurts and cereal products.
- curcumin – made from turmeric. Colors products yellow. It is added to mustard, spices, drinks and concentrates. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory and has anti-cancer properties.
- cochineal – is a dye of animal origin. It is obtained from the dried shells of insects. Dark red color is used to color ice cream and cucumbers.
- caramel – colors food in many shades, from yellow to black. It is produced by heating carbohydrates for a long time.
- betanin – is a harmless dye obtained from beetroot.
- carotene – is added to dairy products and desserts. It works anti-cancer.
- anthocyanins – have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Additionally, they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Anti-cyanides dye products purple, blue, and red.
- chlorophyll – it is used a little less often, because of all natural dyes it is the least durable. It is obtained from the green parts of plants.
Producers more and more often reach for natural dyes derived from fungi, mold or sea algae.
Natural food colors – how to prepare them yourself? Proven ways
In order to give the dishes or desserts a beautiful, original look, we do not have to reach for artificial dyes available in stores. Self-preparation of food dyes is extremely simple and cheap – just use natural ingredients. Thanks to home methods, we can be sure that the food we prepare is free of chemicals. Importantly, natural dyes, like synthetic ones, do not change the taste of food. How to get specific dye colors?
- red – this color can be obtained by squeezing the juice from the cooked beetroot. This is the most proven way. For the dye to be effective, add 2 heaped tablespoons of vinegar to it.
- yellow / orange – use turmeric to turn your dishes yellow or orange. To prepare the mixture, we need two glasses of water and fresh or dried turmeric, which should be dissolved in boiling water. Depending on what shade we want to achieve, we can use more or less turmeric. In addition to turmeric, we can also use saffron soaked in spirit with the addition of lemon zest. The orange shade can also be prepared from orange peels with the addition of powdered sugar.
- blue – we can use blueberries or lingonberries to prepare a blue dye. Pour the fruit into a pot, add water and bring it to a boil.
- green – for a green dye, use a handful of spinach. drain after boiling.
- black – you just need to mix pharmacy charcoal with water. We can also use tea, coffee or cocoa essences.
- brown – this color can be obtained by boiling the onion shells.
- purple – to obtain a violet shade, combine red and blue decoctions.
Due to the growing awareness of consumers and numerous studies on the effects of dyes on health, the list of permitted substances is systematically modified. To avoid artificial additives in food, it’s a good idea to read labels carefully.