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I've been experimenting more and more with "natural" food colorings - meaning spices and other ingredients that naturally impart color as opposed to a commercial food dye made specifically for this purpose.

For example, I've let scallops (among other things) sit in a beet puree, and they get a brilliant pink color. I plan on trying turmeric and saffron for more yellow/orange/red colors.

Are there other ingredients that I can try that might create a green or blue color in scallops? And would these work for other foods as well?

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I've edited your question (mostly just the title) to focus on the specific, answerable part. There are a huge number of ways to color food, and the former title will tend to attract answers like Caleb's: true, but not necessarily helpful, and impossible to be complete. If you have other colors you need help getting, feel free to post another question. –  Jefromi Mar 21 '12 at 23:33
Parsley was a medieval cook's go-to when coloring something green. There isn't much that'll achieve blue, though. –  Marti Mar 8 '13 at 23:38
Perhaps also of interest: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/30839/… –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 8 '13 at 23:55

6 Answers 6

According to this blog, you can make blue dye from red cabbage, water, and baking soda. I don't know if it would specifically work on scallops, but I haven't been able to find any proof that alkaline dyes are detrimental to them. The article points out that they work for pastries, though.

Spinach or matcha (green tea powder) could work for green dye. Matcha is already used, primarily in Japan, to dye several kinds of foods and/or drinks and I've personally used spinach to dye Easter eggs.

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  • Annatto seeds will give you another version of yellow/orange.

  • Squid ink or cuttlefish ink will give you black.

  • Red wine or grape juice sometimes colors foods red.

  • Apparently, scallops will sometimes turn blue on their own under the right conditions.

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The colour of the food very much depends on its pH (acidity). I remember learning about this in a biochemistry lecture about 35 years ago and then demonstrating it whilst cooking - adding cream to blackberries. The cream changed the acidity of the blackberries, whose colour changed from purple to blue.

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Its a well known fact vanilla ice cream are green in colour. For getting the green colour, you can use vanilla or its products which render green. There are plenty of manufacturers who sell natural green colorant.

regarding blue colour, i am not sure. I think one can try blue grapes to get blue (more of purple) colour.

Apart from this there are lots of green / blue flowers / fruits in nature. Just google it and may get some positive results for colour extraction from the selected flower / fruit. and can be extracted in backyard and can use it.

I dont think spices can render green / blue colour.

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"Its a well known fact vanilla ice cream are green in colour" - might want to take a colour-blindness test. –  Nick Apr 6 '13 at 17:38

First, compliments on sticking with natural.

Red cabbage is a natural pH indicator. While you can get it to turn any colour, it will shift in colour if the food pH is not the same as the cabbage.

  • You can use blueberries (ha!), blackberries, and Elderberries for various blues (see the note below on why it's hard to get a natural blue).
  • For greens, we use basil pesto.
  • For reds, there are some edible flowers that do well, obviously beats and raspberries.
  • For yellow/orange. Saffron! grind it down in a pestle and mortar and dissolve in a bit of hot water. Note of caution: Saffron at high doses is toxic, but at that dose, you'd be spending hundreds of dollars worth of saffron to get saffron poisoning.
  • Obviously you can mix these to get secondary colours.

You can loosely follow this vegetable dye making recipe (obviously leave out the chemicals).

Blue dye in history: Getting a natural blue has been traditionally difficult (and expensive). Artists show Virgin Mary wearing blue because in those days it was more expensive than gold.

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How do you get blue from blueberries or blackberries? They are both purple? The bluish sheen on blueberries is an iridescent effect, not an actual color from pigment. –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 8 '13 at 23:45
@SAJ14SAJ Blueberries I've used have been blue. Here is an example: kiwimagonline.com/2012/03/diy-dye-plus-an-all-natural-kit blackberries, I agree, they have some red. However, "A deep blue-purple dye can be made with Himalayan Blackberries": wiki.islandwood.org/index.php?title=Himalayan_Blackberry –  MandoMando Mar 8 '13 at 23:57

Blueberries will give a nice purplish hue. Also beets will give a strong red color for natural food coloring.

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