Naturally Colored Decorating Sugar (Using Edible Flowers)

How to make naturally colored decorating sugar with edible flowers and cane sugar. (If you're sugar free, use coconut flakes instead.)


Lately, I’ve been working on a new ebook about some of my favorite edible flowers and fun ways to use them. It’s a pretty time consuming project, so I’m still a ways from having it done, but this colored sugar idea has been so fun and so well received by family and friends – I couldn’t wait any longer to share it with you!

Last year, IN THIS POST, I talked about how you can make mint sugar. This year, while looking at my lovely dianthus flowers growing in my garden, I had a sudden inspiration to see what would happen if I made dianthus sugar instead.

So, I put 1/4 cup of cane sugar in my trusty mini-food processor along with the petals from about ten dark red dianthus flowers….

dianthus petals and sugar

….. blended it together and ended up with this:

natural purple sugar made from dianthus flowers

I was smitten with the color and used up half a bag of sugar experimenting with other flowers growing in my garden!   Some worked and some didn’t.

For instance, I was convinced that bachelor buttons (cornflower) and borage would give me beautiful shades of blue. However, bachelor buttons needed a bit of water to blend and then made a streaky purplish shade. Sadly, I used up a ton of my precious borage flowers only to discover that they made an unattractive gray instead of the sky blue I hoped for. Ah well – you never know until you try something though!

(*UPDATE: See below for information on turning this into colored powdered sugar and/or a glaze.)

This photo below shows the type of flower (or veggie in the case of spinach) used and what the resulting color was:

How to make naturally colored decorating sugar with edible flowers and cane sugar. (If you're sugar free - use coconut flakes instead.)

Naturally Colored Decorating Sugar

Exact amounts for colors shown. If you can’t have sugar, try unsweetened coconut flakes instead:

  • Pink = 1/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon torn rose petals
  • Orange = 1/4 cup sugar + petals of one calendula blossom
  • Yellow = 1/4 cup sugar + 4 or 5 dandelions (petals only)
  • Green = 1/4 cup sugar + 3 spinach leaves
  • Blue-Violet = 1/4 cup sugar + 1/2 to 1 tablespoon violet petals (I used frozen ones)
  • Purple = 1/4 cup sugar + the petals from 10 dark red/magenta dianthus flowers

 **Be sure to research each type of flower that you experiment with and make sure that it is indeed edible. Also, some flowers may be contraindicated for certain health conditions or for those who are pregnant or nursing.**

naturally colored sugar that has been dried in oven

There are two ways to preserve the sugar:

  • Freezing – after blending, put in small containers and freeze for several months. (Some of the sugars shown in these photos had already been frozen for three months, with no loss in color.)
  • Drying – Turn your oven on to the lowest heat setting it has. Let it preheat about ten minutes while you spread the colored sugar out on a sheet of parchment paper. Pop the pan in the oven and turn off the heat. Let it sit in the slowly cooling oven overnight or for several hours. The sugar will have hardened and you’ll need to reprocess it again to make it smooth once more. Store in glass jars, out of direct sunlight and heat for several months. Freeze for longest shelf life.

You can use the naturally colored sugar to sprinkle on cookies and cupcakes or in teas and other recipes instead of regular sugar. Most of the flowers don’t carry over any taste to speak of, though two taste testers thought they could detect a mild spinach flavor in the green sugar.

 

Are you sugar free? I can relate, since our family was too for several years. If you can’t have sugar, try this technique with unsweetened coconut flakes. I think you’ll like the results! Below, left to right, coconut flakes colored with dianthus, calendula, and spinach.

naturally colored coconut flakes

 

Update: I’ve had several people ask if you can turn this into powdered sugar and/or a glaze. The answer is yes! However, the powdered sugar will be lighter colored and the glaze might be speckled. Also, the glaze won’t hold the color for a long, long time. (i.e. This purple one eventually soaked in the cupcake and turned blue.) Here’s a photo showing regular dianthus sugar, then powdered dianthus sugar, then powdered dianthus sugar mixed with a little bit of water to make a glaze. (You could use milk or a milk substitute as well.) Directions on making powdered sugar from cane sugar can be found HERE.

Naturally Colored Sugar made into powdered sugar and a glaze

Did you enjoy this edible flowers project? If so, let’s stay in touch! Subscribe to my newsletter (HERE) and receive my latest herbal projects, recipes, and soap making ideas delivered straight to your inbox, once a month. No spam ever and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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28 Responses to Naturally Colored Decorating Sugar (Using Edible Flowers)

  1. oh wow what an awesome idea-thanks much

  2. These are soooooo pretty!!
    I just love the idea of coloring sugar with flowers, no nasty food coloring instead, the beauty and delight of flowers.
    Now I think I must go bake something so I can decorate it!

  3. Patti Gregerson says:

    This is pure genius! Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Wanda says:

    Just in time for my wedding rose cupcakes…….thank you!!!

  5. That is genius!! Have you tried powdering the sugar after you color it to make powdered sugar for frosting? I’m pinning this to my natural dye board! Can’t wait for the book to come out – I’ll share it all around!

  6. PS The picture coming up on Pinterest is your mint one. Maybe the featured image isn’t set to the dye pict? Just an fyi. :)

    • Jan says:

      Hmmm… I have the top photo set as the featured image. I’m not sure why my social sharing plugin does that. Most of the time it show the first image I put in a post, so I have to remember to put the image I want for pinning first. Then sometimes… it bugs out on me and shows something totally off. I probably need a better plugin! (OR more techy smarts!) :)

  7. Vickie says:

    This is so cool! I can’t wait to try it! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  8. Gentle Joy says:

    I LOVE this!!! I’m so glad for the work you have done on this and that you shared it. Thank you. :)

  9. catherine says:

    what about using stevia leaves and flowers?

  10. Michele says:

    You are so clever! I LOVE this idea and will def try it!

  11. kim says:

    I can’t wait to show my granddaughters. We homeschool so I can see this turning into an experiment that tastes good.

    • Jan says:

      They will have a great time experimenting! There are many flowers that I didn’t try (like sunflower! and kudzu! and snapdragons! and daylilies, hibiscus, hollyhocks and more!), so they will truly be making new discoveries! :)

  12. Allison says:

    Love the idea and going to try it but my concern is isn’t borage toxic? I see your not putting it in the list of most successful. I know long term use can cause liver damage and it should be avoided while pregnant or nursing. Makes an awesome flea powder to.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Allison! From my understanding, borage leaves have similar compounds as comfrey (pyrrolizidine alkaloids, or PA for short) that can build up in your liver if taken over a long time. A healthy person should have no trouble consuming small amounts periodically, but you are correct that long term use can be a problem plus borage is contraindicated for pregnant or nursing ladies. That’s a great note that I need to add to the post – that people should thoroughly research each flower & its potential side effects before consuming. Thanks for the reminder! (and the tip about borage for fleas too!)

  13. Nicola Jayne Jones says:

    Hi,
    Do you think that it would work with a natural stevia granulated sweetner like the Truvia brand? We have this in the UK I don’t know if it’s avaliable in the USA? I’ve been experimenting alot with edible flowers this summer from my garden. Just a few days ago I made a Rose,Geranium & Raspberry cake for the ladies at my sons nursery school. I wish I had read your article before and would have made the rose glaze instead of using regular icing sugar. I love reading about your ideas. x

    • Jan says:

      Your cake sounds so lovely!! In theory, I think this idea would work with Truvia, but I would just test a small amount out first and see how the color holds up for you.

  14. Genesis says:

    This is absolutely genius! It would be neat if the sugars would hold the flavors of the flowers, especially with the rose and mint for teas.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Genesis, The sugar does hold the mint flavor nicely, but it’s a lot milder with rose. That could vary depending on your type of rose though; some heavily scented old fashioned ones would probably have a lot more flavor!

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