One study showed that adding food colouring can deliver as much as 10% more perceived sweetness1. Another showed that adding food colouring to a clear solution changed the way people detected basic tastes in the solution2.
YELLOW: reduced the detection threshold for sourness and increased the threshold for the detection of sweetness.
GREEN: decreased people’s detection of sweetness.
RED: reduced the threshold for the detection of bitterness2.
10 tips for cooking with colour:
- Use fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables to add pigment, or complement pale foods with bright sauces like green pesto or mango salsa.
- Keep the flavour profile of pigments in mind when adding them to dishes to make sure they don’t clash.
- Blend fresh or cooked berries into batters or beverages to make them pink, purple, or blue.
- Freeze-dry fruits and grind to a powder for a shelf-stable dye you can mix into frostings or beverages.
- Cook and puree beets, spinach, or squash and work it into pasta to turn it red, green, or orange.
- Ask your fishmonger for squid ink that you can add to pasta, rice, or bread to make it black. For a vegan option, you can also use charcoal powder as a black dye.
- Soak saffron in water for a rich golden hue, traditionally used in rice, paella, and bouillabaisse.
- Mix ground coffee or cocoa powder into icings for cakes and cookies.
- Add golden-yellow turmeric powder to brighten curry, eggs, meat, tofu, or potatoes.
- Stir in some dried spirulina (algae powder) to turn yogurt or ice cream a beautiful blue.
1Clydesdale FM, Gover R, Philipsen DH, Fugardi C. The effect of color on thirst quenching, sweetness, acceptability and flavor intensity in fruit punch flavored beverages. J Food Qual. 1992;15:19–38.
2Maga JA. Influence of color on taste thresholds. Chem Senses Flavor. 1974.