Archive for DIY

How to Make Beet Powder (natural food colouring)

Well, my experiments with Butterfly Pea Tea have kicked off a whole new obsession: natural food colouring.

I’m sure many of you are skeptical when you read that item on your ingredients list that says “natural food colouring.” I mean, what even is that?? And in the case of some companies (I’m looking at you, Kraft), the ingredients might well be “natural,” but that doesn’t mean they are actually things we want to eat. Beetle shells, anyone?

Beet Powder Natural Food Colouring

Going beyond that, though, if you’re vegan/vegetarian, you may be eating things that are not vegan/vegetarian, and you wouldn’t even know it.

So after playing around with the intense blues and purples of Butterfly Pea Tea, I was curious; what other things could I make natural food colouring out of?

The first thing I thought of was beets. I mean, every time I cook with those bad boys, my kitchen looks like someone’s been murdered there, so it seems like a no-brainer.

The question is, how to harness the power of the beet without permanently staining everything around me?

The answer, my friends, lies in a few simple kitchen tools.

First, I juiced up a couple of beets. This isn’t weird for me, I like to add a little beet juice when I’m juicing because it adds a pretty pink colour. But this time, I wasn’t looking for the juice, I was looking for the pulp.

Juicing the beets leaves you with a nice, even, fairly dry final product, which is perfect for drying.

After juicing the beets, I dehydrated them overnight in my dehydrator (here’s the one I have). If you don’t have one, spread the beet pulp in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and turn your oven on to the lowest setting. I’d bake them like that for maybe a few hours, then turn off the oven and let them sit overnight (if you don’t open the oven, the residual heat lasts quite some time). Don’t forget to stir them occasionally to make sure the drying process is even.

After you’ve dehydrated your beet pulp, just throw it into a coffee grinder or a blender and blitz the crap out of it. Et Voila! Beet powder!

Add it to baking, to cocktails, I’m even going to experiment with it in buttercream frosting…

DIY Vanilla

There was a time, a long time ago, when I would have been happy with artificial vanilla. But today? Not a chance. Sure, real vanilla extract is more expensive, but it’s just better! It tastes better, and it makes everything you put it into taste better, as well.

So, imagine my dismay when I recently rolled into Costco to buy Vanilla and found it had more than doubled in price! What I normally pay $12-14 for was now nearly $40!

DIY Vanilla Extract

Turns out there’s a world-wide shortage of vanilla. Vanilla pods come from the pistil of a rare orchid, and they are very time- and labour-intensive to grow. High demand has lead to a shortage everywhere, causing prices to escalate.

So, I can’t afford to buy vanilla, but the prospect of going back to artificial vanilla was not appealing. So, I started doing some research: could I make my own DIY vanilla extract cheaper than it would cost me to buy it in the store?

Turns out, you can.

So, a 437 ml bottle of vanilla at Costco (which is probably the best price around) is currently $38.95.

Here’s how much it costs to make DIY Vanilla Extract: 

  • 2 Tahitian vanilla beans: $10 (Gourmet Warehouse, you can also buy it online)
  • 375 ml bottle of vodka: $15
  • 500 ml mason jar (I had)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (I had on hand as well)

So I spent $25 for 500 ml of vanilla extract–not cheap, but still much cheaper than $40!

It’s also really simple to make, but it does take time. If you start it right now, though, you’ll have to gift for Christmas presents! This stuff is getting to be more precious than bitcoin!

How are you coping with the current vanilla prices? Got any tips to share? Drop them into the comments below.

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