Never again do you need to buy food colouring, or use artificially created colours. Growing and making your own natural food colouring is incredibly easy with edible flowers.
Children love to decorate cakes and biscuits with brightly coloured icing but you do not have to use shop-bought or artificial colourings for exciting and vivid colours. Try these easy to grow flowers for nearly every colour in the rainbow; Cornflower Black Ball (actually makes purple), Cornflower Blue Ball, Cornflower Red Ball, Calendula Bon Bon Orange, Calendula Bon Bon Yellow. Cornflowers are particularly well suited to making cakes as their mild flavour means you can add vibrant colour without changing the flavour of the cakes or icing. Calendula has a more distinct flavour and so it best used in savoury cooking or perhaps to add colour along with stronger flavours such as citrus.
- Pick flowers on a dry day, as soon as they are fully open.
- Dry flowers by hanging upside down in loose bunches, or remove the petals and spread finely on a plate or tray. Leave in a warm, dry location. Inspect daily to check for spoiling and remove affected flowers.
- As soon as petals are fully dry (about a week later) they are ready to be ground. You will know that the petals are fully dry when they are light and crisp to the touch.
- Grind petals using a pestle and mortar, or a clean coffee grinder. Using a pestle and mortar requires a little elbow grease but it does work eventually – I promise!
- Keep working the petals until you have a fine dust. The finer the better. If you are happy to have a speckled effect from your colouring then do not worry if you have a few a few small unground petal fragments remaining.
- Either use the powder immediately to add to icing, custards or other foods, or add to a clean, sealable jar and keep in a cupboard until you are ready to use it.
- Alternatively, for colouring which can be used immediately, soak your petals in a little water and stir. After a few minutes the water will pick up the colour of the petals. Strain the petals and use the coloured water to add colour to your food.