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Natural Food Coloring

I am not much of a sweet tooth kind of person, but once a while indulging in colorful tiny bite Thai sweet and dessert make me realize how wonderful sugar tastes.

Thai desserts look so fine and elegant and they considered being arts that mend in our daily lives. To make such gorgeous treats requires techniques and practices, though not so difficult that they are out of our hands.

Before getting into making the beautiful colorful treats, you should learn to extract the colors and scents from the ingredients. Color is such an important part of Thai dessert. If you have a chance to browse through Thai market in dessert sections, you will see vast and massive collections of color treats exhibited throughout the stands.

When you have a chance to inspect the nature around you, you will the color and shade of happiness everywhere. Extracting the color and smell from them is also bringing the character of the ingredients into your dishes. The color and fragrance that suitable for desserts and sweets are from flowers and fruits, but strong herbs and spices are more eligible for savory dishes. Though some spices like cardamom and herbs like ginger are great with sweet dishes, too but I am guarantee that they couldn’t do what the pale scent of jasmine does when it touches sugar.

The best way of extracting color from fresh natural ingredients is to grind them in the food processor with little cold water and strain it through a muslin cloth. The color should be used immediately or freeze in refrigerator to preserve the beautiful fresh color. Working with dried ingredients, warm water helps bringing out the color better.

Natural Color choices:


Pandan leaves give a fresh green to desert dishes. If you want to get the light pale green, try adding coconut milk or diary cream to it.

Chili leaves, Yanang leaves or Chinese spinach leaves give the intense green to Laos and Thai savory dishes.


The flower like Roselle, Hibiscus gives the chard red to the dessert

Red rice and red beans soaked in water, grind and strain gives deep dark red to the sweet dish.

Tomato and red chili gives lovely red to savory dishes.


Pumpkin, carrot, safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), Night blooming jasmine traditionally use to give a perky sunshine yellow.

Fully ripe palmary palm fruit produced yellow pulps that give the rich yellow and sweet ripe floral to Asian steamed cake and bake goods.

Turmeric and saffron are popular color for curries and any spicy golden dishes


Internal skin of dragon fruits gives the lovely pink.


Butterfly pea flower (blue pea vine) is an important ingredient that gives the dark blue and royal purple to Thai desserts and snacks.


Burnt coconut shell, coffee, black beans


Chocolate, burnt sugar

Tips on adjusting the shade of color

The amount of extraction used determines the intensity of color in your food.

As the color in foods has different HP indicator in them, by adding lime juice you can actually adjusting the color i.e. adding lime juice in blue solution of butterfly pea flower can turn it to purple or red. However, adding lime is not the safest solutions as it can affect the taste in your dessert.

Mixing the color of different ingredients also gives new unique color, so feel free to experiment on mixing up beautiful fresh color to get the new shiny bright color.

Remember that natural food color extracted from fresh ingredients also bears other character of the ingredients like smell and taste, so carefully select through the ingredients that is most suitable to your dish is also an important thing to keep in mind.

Do you use color in your dishes? What do you normally used to color your food?

Have a nice day,

14 comments to Natural Food Coloring

  • What a great post Tes. I don’t really colour food very often – on occasion icing but have only every used bought food colouring.
    🙂 Mandy

  • I had no idea there were so many natural colours to use. I love the idea of using flowers like jasmine and hibiscus because I have both of those on my terrace! 😀

  • Adora's Box

    It’s nice to use all natural ingredients to colour and flavour your food. I rarely use food colour and only for baking. It’s the store bought ones, I’m afraid.

  • Chad @ thebreakupnote

    This is really informative and helpful. I never had a clue about how to get natural food colors before!

  • Roxan

    Hi Tes! Long time no see 🙂 I’m not sure if I updated you but I have a new blog address now!
    Anyways – my very most favorite natural food coloring is… Matcha! I love the vibrant green color it adds to everything.

  • Fantastic post Tes, love your tips and those pictures are beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Manu

    Great post! I am going to facebook this!!!

  • Such great ideas for color.

  • Bellissimo Post, Grazie!
    Saluti Giulia

  • jack @ anatomy and physiology study guide

    When I was young my mom showed us how to use natural food coloring a long time ago, now I am teaching my children this trick too 🙂 Good info!

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