Unhappy with this tradeoff, ColorKitchen founder and CEO Ashley Phelps developed a method that she says delivers bright, saturated colors from natural ingredients – even when baked – that also are flavorless, odorless and shelf stable.
“There are some liquid natural food colorings out there, but the problem with the liquid natural food colors is it is like a beet juice and it has a shelf life of about six months before the colors start to turn – like a natural color would,” Phelps told FoodNavigator-USA at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.
In addition, she noted, when people use natural colors, such as beet juice, at home, “sometimes they will say, ‘My red velvet cake ended up tasting a little rooty, like beetroot.’”
But that won’t happen with ColorKitchen’s natural dyes, she claimed, adding, neither will the color fade.
“Our juice is sprayed onto a powder and the powder dries so the color stops fading, so when you use the packet you get the bright color. And it has a shelf life of several years – so if you mix it in your frosting you are going to get that bright, beautiful color, even though it is natural,” Phelps explained.
The starch base that maintains the color “also removes the odor and the taste, so you do not taste a hint of beets or spirulina, which is an algae. You don’t taste that. It is just the color,” she claimed.
ColorKitchen doesn’t just sell natural dyes. It also offers home cooks naturally colored alternatives to some of the top selling cake mixes and rainbow sprinkles.
At the Summer Fancy Food Show, the company showcased its new Red Velvet cake mix and a Confetti cake mix, both of which are gluten free and also have heat stable natural colors that won’t fade when baked, Phelps claimed.
She explained that she opted to create these two mixes because they are two of the most popular options and often used for celebrations, which are a time for fun and bright colors.
Phelps believe the movement toward natural dyes is here to stay with many major brands removing artificial colors from their products. And while she says the category has come a long way to meet this growing demand, she says there is still much-needed innovation.
The future is bright for natural colors
The trend towards replacing artificial dyes with natural ones has gathered steam in recent years with many major brands making the swap in their products, and as such Phelps believes the trend will continue.
However, Phelps noted, despite the progress that has been made, she sees a great need for natural options in the baking aisle – especially for a green that will remain vibrant after it is baked.
Phelps also is looking to expand ColorKitchen’s lineup to include more baking mixes, frostings and different color packs of sprinkles that the company can sell to consumers at retail and also food service providers and other brand manufacturers.