Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Beetroot Adventures

For my birthday, my friend Holly bought me some lovely springform cake tins, one of which is the shape of a heart, so I decided to make a cake. When I came to making icing, I realised I didn't have any food colouring, and since I'd made the simplest, most basic cake on Earth, I really wanted it to be a bit more interesting!

I had a bit of a search through the cupboards and the fridge, and found some beetroot at the back of the fridge. I hate beetroot (for a vegetarian I'm not a massive fan of most vegetables unfortunately), but I had bought it to dye wool with. You may have seen what happened the last time I tried to dye wool with beetroot, but here's a photo:

I've grown to like it, but it wasn't quite what I was after! 

Anyway, back to food colouring. I didn't have any, and I wanted some! So I used the juice from the packet (I didn't want to use too much in case I ended up with beetroot-flavoured icing) to make baby pink icing. Here's the result:

So if you'd like to avoid food colouring for whatever reason, here's the recipe I used/made up:

175g of icing sugar
70g of softened butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon juice
A splash of milk
3 tbsp beetroot juice

Basically it's buttercream icing with a couple of extras. I used the vanilla essence and lemon juice to make sure there was no beetroot flavour and it seems to have worked quite nicely. Now I want to try other colours! I bet turmeric would make a crazy bright yellow. Maybe spinach might be worth a try too.

Then, remembering the failed wool dyeing, I decided to try cold-dyeing some wool in beetroot juice. I mushed up 3 beetroots (I bought the pre-cooked ones) and strained out the bits. Then I poured in a random amount of white vinegar (about the same amount of liquid I already had) and put a 100g skein of unmordanted wool in. 

I don't have any pre-mordanted wool at the moment because I haven't got round to it, so that's why I added the white vinegar to the dye instead. I don't know if it made any difference, but after just 2 hours I ran the skein under the tap and no dye came out! Here's the wet wool after I rinsed it. It will probably be a bit lighter once dry, but the colour looks great!

That white patch is kind of infuriating though...

- Kate


  1. I am curious if the beetroot colour has stayed or faded. I only use fresh beetroot (not tinned) and cook it up, with vinegar or salt or whatever I feel like putting in (alum often too). It makes an amazing colour, but doesn't last a long time.
    For icing we've used frozen raspberries, which not only make a beautiful colour, but also have a subtle flavour that's very yummy. When my kids were young, I used to make playdough for them and colour it with rose hip, turmeric and beetroot. Lots of fun.

    1. Hi Ellie, thanks for reading! So far I've found that the colour from beetroot stays as long as it's not exposed to too much direct sunlight, which in England hasn't been too difficult this year! I have only made things which don't need to be washed, however, as I assume the colour would wash out pretty easily.
      That's a great idea for icing! I bet it looks lovely! I'll have to try it myself soon :)



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