Rainbow Foods!

Pigments in naturally occurring foods are embedded in the cells of the food infrastructure. These are the ones that give yellow, green, red, orange, purple and many other colors to food items like fruits, nuts, grains, pulses, greens etc. But when the same natural food item is subjected to cooking, that natural color is reduced or destroyed.

The same color is added to correct these. It can also be natural color. Or it can be synthetic. The dark red color of tomatoes is not present when making tomato jam or sauce. But the natural red color of tomatoes is what the foodies expect. This is why the extra red color is added.

In many foods, extracts and colors are added from natural food products. Artificial colors are added to give an eye-catching effect to pale or water-colored jellies that are made without color. Because each food color differs in terms of its chemical composition, the raw material extracted, and the method used, it is difficult to categorize them finely. Therefore, it is divided into a general classification.

Natural food colors

Chinese and European dietary records attest that natural food colors have been used since about 2600 years ago. These pigments are extracted from animals, small insects, birds, nuts, fruits, minerals found in the earth, aromatic foods etc. For example, the seed of a tree called anntto, which has a pink color, yields a pigment called anthocyanin.

Thus, naturally available crocin pigment, capsanthin and capsorubin pigments are dried and ground into powder and used as food coloring, caramel made by melting sugar over high heat, green plants, turmeric etc. are used as natural food pigments. Apart from these, deep red color is obtained from cotton seed, blue from conch flower, purple from grape skin, green from pandanus plant, animal blood and red color from dactylopus coccus.

Natural colors are beneficial to the body in many ways, but not only do they discolor when exposed to heat, but their pH is very acidic. And it is difficult to make them in large quantities and use them for large quantities of food. This is one of the reasons why artificial food colors have been invented and come into use.

These are further classified. Natural colors obtained from living species

a) Anthocyanin – Anthocyanins are water soluble pigments. These are what give the colors red and blue and purple. This pigment is extracted from grapes, berries, apples, cherries, red cabbage, eggplant, etc. and used in the preparation of many foods. In ancient times, the color of the wine made by fermenting grapes was also naturally obtained. This type of food coloring is used in soft drinks, desserts, ice cream, bakery foods, jelly candies etc.

b) Carotenoid – These pigments are available from insects and plants. In total, about 600 different types of carotenoids are found in nature, which is about 3.5 tons every second. Available in yellow, orange and red colors, this pigment does not harm the body in any way. Subclasses of these are called xanthophylls. These are also used as colorants in dairy products, sweet foods, creams for food decoration etc.

i) Carotene – This naturally occurring pigment has been used as a food colorant for hundreds of years. It got its name because it was originally extracted from carrots. Besides, it is extracted from foods such as banana, jackfruit, orange, corn, mango, papaya, parangi, watermelon, bell pepper, cucumber, broccoli. It is used as a color for butter and as a color for ice cream, sweet curd etc.

ii) Apo-8 carotenol – A type of carotenol, this pigment is extracted from citrus fruits like lemons, oranges and amethysts. It is also used as a colorant in butter, dairy products, sweets and some salad dishes.

iii) Canthaxanthin – This orange-red pigment is found in mushrooms, orange color in the feathers of brick storks, sickle-nosed birds, cormorant birds, shelled marine organisms (crab, shrimp) and fish. These colors are due to the fish they eat and the red color of their shelled ankles. Used as a colorant in juices, ice creams, sauces, salad soups and dry powders. It is also used predominantly in continental cuisine such as Russian and French cuisine.

iv) Annatto – This orange-red color is obtained from the seeds of a type of tree (Bixa orellaa) and the surrounding skin that is ground into powder, added to hot oil, and the pigment is extracted and used in food. In particular, it is a staple in American, Philippine and Jamaican cuisine. Butters, soups, broths, sauces, meats etc. are colored by this pigment. It is also noted that it was used as a food coloring in ancient Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean

v) Betalain – A water soluble purple pigment that imparts purple, crimson, red, yellow colors to flowers, fruits, pods, leaves etc. Betalin extracted from these foods is used as a natural colorant in liquid foods, jams and jellies, ice cream, yogurt, gelatin desserts, processed fruits, chocolate foods, etc. Pedalin pigment, which does not cause any harm to the body or the environment, is still added as a food color today.

vi Chlorophyll – Chlorophyll pigment is responsible for the green color of plants and helps in making food from sunlight. This natural color extracted from leaves, grass etc. is used to color food like ice cream, sauce, chocolate, ice varieties, pickles etc. Natural colors derived from mineral salts

Food colors are also extracted from non-living inorganic materials. Aluminum particles, silver color, golden color from gold, yellow, ocher, red and black colors from iron oxide, white color from titanium dioxide, pale color from calcium carbonate salt are extracted and added to food. Although derived from mineral salts rather than natural foods, they are also used as a garnish in bread, liquid foods, chocolates, and desserts. Artificial food colors, their types and in which foods they are used will be discussed in the next article.

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