Naturally Colored Decorating Sugar (Using Edible Flowers)
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!
An experiment with flowers…
Last year, in my Things to Make with Mint article, I talked about how to 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….
….. blended it together and ended up with this:
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!
A floral sugar rainbow
(*UPDATE: See below for information on turning these 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:
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.**
There are two ways to preserve the sugar:
- 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.)
- Method 1: Spread the sugar in a thin layer on a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Allow to air dry in a safe spot overnight.
- Method 2: 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.
A sugar free option:
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.
Making Naturally Colored Powdered Sugar
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.)
I make my own powdered sugar, by grinding cane sugar to a fine powder in a coffee grinder, but you could use store-bought as well.