A long search to find a natural blue color as a replacement for synthetic food dye may have come to an end.
An international team of researchers in California has discovered a natural brilliant blue color. This new cyan blue is extracted from red cabbage and makes for a great alternative to artificial colors used in food.
The blue color seen in drinks, cosmetics, tablets, sweets, and other foods is mostly due to the use of synthetic blue food color. The food industry primarily depends on two synthetic colors to create the blue color seen in candy and cereal. The first shade is brilliant blue, and the other is called indigotin. These colors bring bright, beautiful hues of blue to the foods. However, there are consumers who are pushing for natural alternatives to food dyes.
The color blue is not easy to find, particularly from natural sources, making this discovery rather exciting. It is uncommon in nature owing to the complex nature of molecules that are needed to absorb the particular wavelengths of light that create the color blue.
With the right shade of blue, it is possible to create other colors such as green, by mixing. Otherwise, the colors can turn a muddy brown when mixed.
The source of the cyan blue- red cabbage is commonly used for a variety of natural food coloring. Reds and purples are the most obvious ones that are sourced from this vegetable.
The pigment that gives fruits and vegetables this beautiful hue of purple or red is called anthocyanin. This has the properties of an antioxidant which offers many health benefits. Scientists have been working to isolate anthocyanins from red cabbage for decades now. However, the natural blue is present in very small amounts.
In another study, scientists attempted to get anthocyanins to maintain their blue color. For this, they mixed the pigments from red cabbage with a molecule containing aluminum ions. This resulted in a molecule that was stronger and more stable in nature. However, this solved only a small fraction of the problem.
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The bar for any new natural blue color is high. The color must be stable, safe to use, and easy to produce. The new cyan blue that has been discovered takes a lot of effort to create. The complex molecules that are created by mixing anthocyanins with aluminum are yet to be declared safe for human consumption.
If you’re looking to make some natural blue color for food items at home, you can use red cabbage to do so. Take the cabbage, cut it into small pieces, and place it in a pot. Add about 1 liter of water to the pot and boil this mixture. The water will change its color once the cabbage has boiled.
You should see a purple broth which will turn into blue once you add some baking powder to it. You can use this liquid color as it is to add to foods or dry it and bring it to a powdered form depending on what food coloring you require.