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A special Thank You to Farmers Pal for compiling this and posting on Facebook!! http://www.farmerspal.com/organic-products/art-and-crafts/page/1/
Pink and Red
You can use any number of options, but for a ton of color with almost no flavor, beets are your best bet. Use the juice from the canned kind, or make your own by either boiling or juicing the raw vegetable. Learn exactly how to make frosting colored by beets from Joy the Baker.
Alternately, you can also use any red fruit, like raspberries or pomegranate. Just know that these may change the flavor – which can be a great thing! Lemon cupcakes with real raspberry-infused frosting just so happen to be a favorite around these parts. To procure your dye, pulverize the berries in a food processor or blender, then strain out the colored liquid using a mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
Carrots are your best bet for achieving a perfectly peachy tint. Citrus may seem promising, but it doesn’t lend much color. Stick to carrots and you’re sure to be pleased. Just juice them (or buy fresh carrot juice), and don’t worry about the flavor. Carrots are naturally sweet! Itsy Bitsy Foodies offered a super tutorial on how to make food coloring from carrots.
For yellow you’ll need to hit the spice rack. Both saffron flowers and turmeric powder will create that sunny, summery hue. These are each intensely-colored spices, so a little goes a long way. Still, be careful, start with very small amounts, and taste as you add. I recommend these two recipes for yellow food coloring: Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy published an awesome recipe for making icing colored with saffron. Nouveau Raw published a delicious recipe for raw vegan frosting colored with turmeric. Check them out and then tell me how yellow and delicious they were.
Are you forever trying to find ways of getting greens into your kids? (Or into yourself?!) Well, how about . . . spinach in the frosting! That’s right, a little spinach will work like a charm, and doesn’t impart any flavor at all (PROMISE!).
You can use juice, or you can even use the whole leaves. I recommend that you try The Edible Perspective’s recipe for Green Monster Wipped Green Frosting, which includes two cups of spinach leaves.
Another option for that emerald tone involves a “health food” supplement called chlorophyll. Liquid chlorophyll is available in most alternative markets (co-ops, Whole Foods) and is quite inexpensive. Besides it’s purported health benefits, it’s a great option for natural food coloring.
Blue and Purple
And finally, the tricky twosome. Blues and purples can be a bit harder, but they certainly are possible. Blueberries and blackberries can be used in the same process as described above (for other berries, under “Pink and Red”). But your real best bet is a totally unexpected vegetable: cabbage!
That’s right! Red cabbage can be used to make both purple and blue food coloring. For the former, cut and boil the cabbage until the water is very dark and concentrated. This will give you a pretty purple dye.
For the latter, slowly stir in baking soda, a bit at a time. It will react with the cabbage juice and produce a perfectly pretty blue hue.
And as an alternative, you can use natural food dye in a savory recipe. Remember, food dye isn’t reserved just for sweets and treats!
Remember that working with natural coloring will be different than the artificially amplified colors you’re probably used to. In general you can expect a paler, more pastel-type of result. It is best if you experiment, play around with quantities and combinations, add a little at a time, and always taste as you go. Most importantly, let your creative juices flow, and have fun with it!
Fruit in a Bag – Strawberries June 21, 2012
The easiest, cheapest way to grow strawberries requires nothing more than an unused reusable shopping bag and a quick trip to a nursery for some strawberry plants and potting mix. The project can cost you less than $10 (you can’t even get two week’s worth of organic strawberries for that price!) and takes 20 minutes start to finish.
- 6 to 8 strawberry plants
- 1 sturdy reusable shopping bag
- 1 32-quart bag organic potting mix,
- 1 bottle liquid organic tomato food
- 1 sturdy crate or small outdoor table
1. Use your scissors to cut some drainage holes in the bottom of your bag.
2. Cut a horizontal slit about two inches long in the center of the bag’s front and in the center of its back.
3. Next, cut similar slits in the two long sides of your bag. Our bag is about 20 inches tall, so we cut two slits per side. Make the first slit a few inches above the base and the second slit at least 6 inches above the first. If your reusable bag is shorter, between 11 and 15 inches tall, just make a single slit in each side, about halfway between the top and the bottom of the bag.
4. Situate your sturdy crate or table somewhere that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day, and place the bag on it. Make sure the bag sits at least a foot off the ground, so the plants hang down without touching the ground, which helps keep them clean, disease free, and away from creepy crawlies who might chew on your berries.
5. Now fill your bag with potting mix to the level of the lowest slits (or the single slit if your bag is shorter). Pick up the bag and thump it down firmly to settle the soil.
6. Working from the inside, poke the leaves and the crown (the thick center section between the roots and the leaves) of one plant through each slit and spread the roots out.
7. If you have a taller bag (taller than 15 inches), continue filling the bag with potting mix up to the next level of slits, and repeat step 4.
8. Fill the remainder of your bag with potting mix to within 2 inches of the top, and thump the bag one last time to settle your mix. Spread out the roots of your last two plants on top of the mix, and cover the roots with mix, filling the bag within ½ inch of the top. Just make sure the crown of each plant is out of the potting mix and its roots are completely covered.
9. Water until the potting mix is evenly moist. Water every two or three days to keep the soil evenly moist; in hot, dry weather you may need to water every day. Should the potting mix get very dry, set the entire bag in a sink or tub filled with a couple inches of water, and let the bag’s contents soak up water until the mix is moist right up to the top, usually within a few hours.
10. Rotate your bag 180 degrees every two to three days, so all the plants get sun exposure. Once a week, feed the plants with organic fertilizer according to the label directions.
Then, just wait for your berries to appear! Once you see flowers, you can expect ripe berries in just a couple of weeks. Wait until each berry is evenly colored and a tiny bit soft before you harvest.
Don’t toss your bag or the plants once they stop producing fruit, either. Move it into a sheltered, unheated location that’s protected from cold. Water it once a month, and move it back outdoors next spring and there will be another organic crop with NO hassle.