Working with Natural Food Colors

OliveNation Natural food colorings are increasingly popular for the beautiful variety of hues they create. Unlike most commercial colorings made using chemical dyes and other artificial colorings, nature-based food colors are made from plants, roots, fruit, and other sources found in nature. These versatile liquid colorants are free from artificial dyes, and are easily used to create almost any hue desired. It is important to be aware that natural food colorings create shades that are generally more muted or pastel than artificially-created colors, and that will fade faster because of the lack of preservatives. However, plant-based natural colorants are much more in line with trends toward "better for you" ingredients and clean labeling manufacturing purposes.

Using Natural Food Coloring

We recommend starting with a ratio of 1/2 to 3/4 of a percent (based on total volume) food color and adjusting as needed for desired depth of color.

Factors that Influence Final Color

How "vibrant" natural food coloring appears in final product depends on several factors:

  • Acidity: Natural food colors are most vibrant in acidic environments. We recommend a starting pH of between 4 and 5. The more acidic the ingredients being colored, the brighter the final color will be.
  • Temperature: Our liquid natural food colorings are not recommended for use in high heat applications. Most natural food colorings will fade at baking heat, although some color will remain.
  • Light Exposure: Natural food dyes will fade when exposed to direct light (sunlight or artificial lighting such as in display cases) for extended periods. Because of this, we recommend keeping finished products out of direct light if they are to be displayed prior to consumption.
  • Color: Some plant-based food shades are naturally more "vibrant" than others due to the chemical qualities of their ingredients. Yellow hues are more vibrant and less sensitive to heat-based fading. Red shades tend to be more true to color in the final product. Plant-based green food dyes are much more muted than artificial colorings and tend to have a more pastel or "dusty" hue rather than brilliant emerald.

Storing Plant-Based Natural Food Dyes

Because they contain no preservatives, natural food coloring should be stored cold, preferably in a refrigerated environment between 32 and 45° F. Containers should be kept out of direct heat and sunlight.

Recommended Uses for Liquid Plant-Based Food Color

  • Buttercream and Frosting
  • Icing
  • Fondant
  • Frozen Desserts
  • Milk and Milk-Based Products and Beverages
  • Colored Sugar Crystals for Decorating
  • Whipped Toppings

Combining Food Dyes to Create Different Shades

As with colored liquid, our natural food dyes can be combined to create new and different shades.

Ready to start working with natural food colors? Check out our selection of plant based food dyes for sale in home and commercial sizes!