Have you tried coloring food using red beet powder?

Red beets contain a pigment called betanin that gives them their magenta hue and can serve as a natural organic food coloring. Red beet powder is used to color frostings, cookies, cakes, candies, and even white chocolate. It is a coloring ingredient in corning beef and in making pastas and sauces. It has a very mild sweet beet flavor. The only downside, however, is its sensitivity to both heat and pH like most natural food dyes and pigments. The color will change when combined with baking soda or baking powder.

Red beet powder gives a color that is reminiscent of red wine and its tint can be tuned by varying the amount of powder used.

Now, can you guess what I made with this natural red food color?  Stay tuned.

Hint: think church windows.

Red food coloring from red beet powder, makes 1 teaspoon red food coloring

1/4 teaspoon red beet powder
1 teaspoon cold water

Mix red beet powder and cold water in a small dish.  Adjust the red-beet-powder-to-water ratio to get the desired red tint. Use less powder to get a paler red or even pink color.

Strain the red beet mixture through a cheesecloth and gently squeeze out the red-colored liquid.

Red Beet Powder as Food Coloring

Cooking Notes:

1. Red beet powder can be bought online or in specialty grocery stores. Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco sells red beet powder in bulk.

2. For more ideas on natural food coloring agents, check out this cool post from Eye Candy.

  • http://thislittlepiggywenttothemarket.blogspot.com/ Lala

    oh awesome! i always try to use beets for colour (but gets complicated if additional liquid isn’t an option). i never thought of red beet powder, but now i discovered something new, thanks to you :)

    salamat, kuya!

  • http://togetherinfood.wordpress.com/ Stephanie M.

    Love that quadrangle of photos — stunning. This is the most creative use of beets that I’ve ever seen!

  • http://www.skiptomalou.net/ skip to malou

    How about for tocino kaya? I like the “red-ness” of it. I tried all sorts of coloring for my tocino and couldn’t get the real “red” that i wanted. Maybe this works. Thanks for the food coloring 101 lesson Jun!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Hey Malou, I actually have been experimenting on red beet powder for tocino and I’m almost ready to write the post! But I used the red beet powder this time for something else!!

    Thank you, Stephanie and Lala!


  • http://dishbytrish.com Trish

    Thanks for the reminder and the tips, Jun. I need to start using less artificial ingredients in my cooking and explore things like this.

  • http://clubdinein.wordpress.com Club Dine In!

    wow, awesome pictures! I never use food coloring, but I want to go to Rainbow to pick up the powder. Maybe I will try making red velvet pancakes?!

  • http://iamafeeder.net Jackie

    Amazing! It looked a little obscene at first, such a dark red! Gorgeous. Can’t wait to see the results post… ;)

    Jax x

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you, Jackie. I know it was a little gross at first but you’ll soon get it that it’s not what you think it is!

    Thank you, Nimisha and Trish! Nothing beats natural.


  • http://kitchen-confidante.com Liren

    Fantastic idea, Jun! I’ve always just cooked or baked with it; never knew you could buy a powder. Wish I had known this when I made my son a firetruck birthday cake for his first birthday, ha!

  • http://www.asianinamericamag.com ElizabethQ

    Hello! I enjoy your Tweets and just found your blog…I like it! It’s very informative and it is always nice to find a “kababayan”. May I please have your permission to put your blog’s name on my blog roll? I have two food blogs:

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you Elizabeth for stopping by my blog. You have a lovely blog, too!! And please, I’ll be honored if you’ll include me in your blog roll. Thank you once again.

  • http://www.inuyaki.com arnold | inuyaki

    Yeah, the first thing i thought of was using it for tocino. Back to the drawing board. :)

  • http://themanhattanfoodproject.wordpress.com elizabeth

    Given cooked beets’ ability to stain absolutely everything it touches (and I do mean everything) I was wondering how it would work as a natural food colorant. How strong is the beet flavor once you’ve cooked/baked with it?

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thanks, Elizabeth. The beet flavor is surprisingly very mild. The sweetness is very subtle.

    Thanks, Arnold. I actually tried it when I made tocino and it actually works. The red color was pretty! Will post soon.


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  • http://thecookiescoop.blogspot.com Susan

    So glad to have found someone who has used beet powder rather than red food coloring. I’ve been looking for a long time to find it. You mentioned that the color will change when used with baking soda or powder but how much does it change and what color does it take on? Do you think it will work for red velvet cake?

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  • jonel

    hello,may i ask something, can i used this colorant in longganisa?

  • Gwen Meehan

    Do you think I can buy the capsules of the red beetroot powder and use that instead?   I don’t know if I can find the powder in a bag locally like that.  But I’m eager to give this a try for frosting.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Hello Gwen,  I have never tried cooking with red beet powder capsules.  Those are supplements, right?  I’d check the ingredients and see if there are other stuff in them besides red beet powder.  I don’t see why you can’t use it for food coloring if they are pure red beet powder encapsulated in gelatin capsules. Let me know how it goes.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Hello Jonel, I think you can use this for longganisa in place of achuete.  I used it to color tocino and it worked very nicely.  Let me know how it goes.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Hello Susan, this recipe uses red beet powder to color red velvet cake, http://bit.ly/g1etsq.  It doesn’t use baking soda.  I haven’t tried it yet so I cannot vouch for its effectiveness.

  • Yulitagangga

    Thank you for your super duper idea of natural red color but how about the taste? cause as I know the taste of beetroot just looks like wet ground, sorry this is my subjective comment. The taste and color of raspberry more fruity. thanks lot

  • Campbell Barnum

    Red beet, termed “beetroot” in Europe, is an approved, commercial, pink-to-red food coloring. It will fade in high heat. An advantage of using beet compared to anthocyanin-based red coloring is beet’s stability in different pH levels.

  • Lvjules

    Can you make a bunch of food coloring and then store it? Or do you have to always make it right before you use it?

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

     That’s a great question.  I’ve never done a big batch before but I think it can be done.  I’d store the red food coloring in an air-tight container and refrigerate it.  The only potential problem I can think of is that the the water and the pigments would separate and you’ll be left with sediments at the bottom and a faintly pink-colored water.

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  • Laura Burger

    Can I use this food coloring to color white chocolate or will the water in in cause clumping?

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Yes, you can, Laura. I refer you to this post: http://eyecandy.nanakaze.net/?p=385.