Is decorating sugar cookies a holiday tradition for you? If you’d like to use natural hues to tint your frosting instead of artificial dyes, I’ve got two recipes to help you achieve red and green.
Yes, naturally colored frosting takes more time than squeezing dyes from a store-bought tube. But think how much fun your kids will have watching spinach and beets transform into festive frosting! (Read about why I’ve tried to eliminate most artificial dyes from our house: Are Artificial Food Dyes Safe For Kids?)
|You might also like: Very Berry Naturally Pink Frosting|
The basic idea: Let plants lend their naturally bright shades. These two recipes make colorful liquids you’ll sub in for the water or milk called for in your frosting recipe. If you don’t have a go-to frosting recipe already, I’ve included one at the bottom of the post.
HOW TO MAKE RED FROSTING
Beets offer an intense color–and if you simmer them way down, you can create red. Simmer them for less time, and you’ll get pink. Keep in mind that it’s hard to get a very deep, rich red (even with the store-bought dye) but this hue works just fine for me.
Red Food Dye
- 2 fresh beets
- 1 cup water
Rinse, trim, and chop beets. Place pieces in a blender or food processor and grind to a pulp.
Combine pulp and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Set a strainer over a bowl. Pour mixture through strainer, pressing ground beets against the strainer to squeeze out all extra liquid.
Use the liquid as a replacement for the water or milk in your frosting recipe.
HOW TO MAKE GREEN FROSTING
For green, make a spinach puree in your blender. If your blender isn’t powerful enough to completely liquify the spinach, strain the liquid to remove any remaining pieces of spinach, then add it to your recipe.
Green Food Dye
- 3 cups unpacked fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup water
In a blender, combine spinach and water until smooth.
Replace the water or milk in your frosting recipe with equal amount of the spinach mixture.
Here’s the basic recipe I use for frosting. I use shortening instead of butter because I want a clean, white color as the base. (I use Spectrum Organic Shortening, which is non-hydrogenated.) Shortening also gives the frosting the firmness you need for piping it through a pastry bag for decorating.
Basic Frosting For Decorating
If you want both red and green frosting, make two separate batches of this so you can tint each a separate color.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup shortening I use Spectrum
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 2-3 tablespoons liquid milk, water, or the spinach or beet purees
Combine powdered sugar and shortening and beat with hand mixer.
Add vanilla and almond extracts. While beating, add liquid, 1 tablespoons at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.