How To Make Green Food Coloring

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If you rarely use food coloring or have an “everything in moderation” kitchen philosophy, you’re probably completely happy saving time (and stress) by using store-bought food coloring.  If someone in your home has an allergy to dyes in food, or you simply want to avoid it, then these 10 methods for how to make green food coloring have your name written all over them.

How to Make Green Food Coloring

Please be aware that when you make your own food coloring, you will not achieve the same brilliant green you get from store-bought dyes. Even most of the natural dyes on the market will not result in a brilliant green.

Because you are using natural products which are not uniform (naturally), your results will vary dramatically each time from “not bad” to “not happening.” To improve your chances of success, check out the tips at the bottom before you proceed.

How to Make Green Food Coloring

How to Make Green Food ColoringMash, process, or otherwise obliterate half an avocado. (Yes, please peel it first.) This will lightly color a cup or two of frosting or a similar white substance.  Avocado has an understated flavor, so it won’t dominate the dish.  Think of it as a culinary wallflower.


How to Make Green Food ColoringPuree 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen spinach.  Boil it in 4 cups of water and then simmer for several hours.  When it is concentrated, strain out the spinach—it’s the liquid you want. Add the concentrate to your recipe.  Avocado will work as well.


How to Make Green Food ColoringRepeat the process above, but do not strain out the original food.  Instead, press it through a sieve or otherwise grind the final result to get it as smooth as possible.


How to Make Green Food ColoringSoak pistachios in water. (Don’t use dyed pistachios, but rather those that have opened and greened naturally.)  Grind them to make a faintly tinted paste you can add to desserts.  Sounds like the makings of pistachio ice cream to me!


How to Make Green Food ColoringSprinkle chlorella, spirulina, or a more suitably flavored green product into the recipe.  Might I recommend parsley, especially stale, finely ground parsley?


How to Make Green Food ColoringBoil the skins from several red onions in a cup or two of water.  Simmer until the water is the color you want.  Some people get brown instead of green. Why doesn’t this make red?  Good question. You should have your children research that.


How to Make Green Food ColoringBoil any green food substance in a cup or so of water for 20-30 minutes.  Strain it and use the green water in place of the liquid in your recipe.  For example, boil broccoli and make rice using the green liquid instead of water or stock.


How to Make Green Food ColoringMake the green liquid as just described. Soak or simmer potato slices or another white absorbent food in the liquid until it is tinted green. (This hasn’t worked for me, but others have had success with it. Salting may encourage a better transfer process.)


How to Make Green Food ColoringIf your recipe calls for milk, simmer spinach, avocado, parsley, whatever, in milk until it turns green. Don’t get distracted! Milk burns easily and must be stirred and kept over a low heat.


How to Make Green Food ColoringRemember kindergarten?  Neither do I.  But I do remember that yellow and blue make green.  Make blue food coloring by boiling red cabbage.  Add a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to turn it from violet to blue. Then add yellow in the form of stale turmeric or saffron…or yellow cake.


These techniques for how to make green food coloring will produce mild food colorings that will tint your light-colored foods green…some even pastel green or army greenDon’t expect the same results as you find in commercial products. Also, don’t be surprised to see this work on lightly colored foods, such as white potatoes or white flour, but only “muddy up” darker foods, such as sweet potatoes or brown flour.

To make the food coloring liquid more brilliant, add 1/2 teaspoon or so of baking soda. This will affect the flavor, so experiment wisely.

Add lemon juice to anything that might brown, such as the avocado, and serve as soon as possible after preparing.

How to Make Green Food Coloring

Many of these recipes will flavor the final outcome.  Since you don’t want your sweets tasting like, say, broccoli or spinach, opt for avocado in icing and other sweets.  Look for foods that complement each other nicely, such as potatoes with parsley, broccoli, or spinach.

Because you will need a larger amount of natural coloring than conventional dyes, the liquid coloring will affect the texture of the dish.  Use less of other liquids until you have achieved the color that you want, at which point, you may wish to add more liquid if necessary.

Finally, to avoid the food coloring issue entirely, give the illusion of green foods by setting a green table—use green flowers, napkins, centerpieces, décor, and naturally green foods (like peas, kiwis, green grapes, lime slices, or M&Ms.) Sprinkle green herbs over savory foods, or cook greenies right into them, like in these Shamrock eggs. (You’re still writhing over that comment about M&Ms being natural, aren’t you? Let a girl dream.)

What do I use, you ask?

How to Make Green Food ColoringWell…to tell you the truth…we use green food coloring once a year (Christmas), and we use the bright, festive, bad-for-you stuff from the store. (You are welcome to comment on how bad our annual splurge is, which I already know, because then I get to share my story about the horribly debilitating effects stressing over healthy eating has had on my health and family. It’s a twisted, ironic, edge-of-your-seat tale the whole family will love.)

But I’m thinking about buying this beauty: India Tree’s natural decorating colors.

Please share your tips for how to make green food coloring below!

If you’re looking for some fun Saint Patrick’s Day recipes, crafts, activities, and more, check out my Simple St. Patrick’s Day board on Pinterest. Simple, green, even a little educational.

Click to visit my Simple St. Patrick’s Day board on Pinterest.

Top photo credit          Green food photo credit

How to Keep Potatoes From Turning Brown

This post goes out to Facebook fan Jessica. Good luck and have fun with your first major Thanksgiving cooking!

How to Keep Potatoes From Browning

I love to prep as much of my major cooking ahead of time as possible, especially for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. (I’ve even fed the family breakfast before bed to get a jumpstart on the next day. Note to self: bad idea.) Sometimes my prep backfires, like when my pre-peeled potatoes turn brown.

How to Keep Potatoes From Browning

If I were to ask my husband about that phenomenon, he would draw on his pre-med training and say something all science-y, like the browning is caused when the polyphenol oxidase enzyme is released from the potato’s cells upon cutting. The enzyme immediately begins reacting with the oxygen in the air to turn the phenol compounds within the tuber brown in a process called oxidation.

Oxidation, shmoxishmation. I just call it ugly. They’re still perfectly edible, mind you, but they aren’t perfectly pretty. I like my taters to be pretty before I mash them into an unrecognizable pulp.

Here’s how you can get a jump start on your potatoes without the ugly.

How to Keep Potatoes from Turning Brown

How to Keep Potatoes From BrowningPeel and rinse the potatoes. (So far so simple.)


How to Keep Potatoes From Browning

Place them (whole, sliced, or diced) in a bowl, pot, bucket, trough, whatever, and cover them completely with water. Completely! Taters in, air out.


How to Keep Potatoes From BrowningStore the bowl in the refrigerator. (I cheat on this step if I don’t have room in the frig. Shhh.)


That’s it! Told ya it was simple. Simpler than that whole polyphenol oxidase thingie.

How to Keep Potatoes From Browning


I only do this overnight. Some people claim you can do this up to three days in advance as long as you replace the water and rinse the potatoes daily. Some people might be right about that. (See the comment section for other opinions.)

Others add a splash of lemon juice to keep potatoes from turning brown. This is a good practice for something that might be sitting in open air. Scientifically, however, the browning occurs when the potatoes come in contact with the oxygen in the air, which is an impossibility when the tubers are immersed in water whose oxygen is firmly bonded to hydrogen and won’t be oxidizing any taters. I save my lemons for lemon pie. Mmmm…pie.

I know you’re all itching to know why potatoes don’t turn brown after they’re cooked. Well, if I were to bother my pretty little head about such things, I would tell you that heat denatures the enzyme, rendering it inert, so it no longer reacts with the oxygen to transform the phenol compounds. (Heat kills enzymes.) But all that science just gives me a rash. Winking smile

Another alternative: crockpot mashed potatoes

How to Keep Potatoes From BrowningMy dear blog friend Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents has a recipe for crockpot garlic mashed potatoes in her e-cookbook, Crock On. Crocking your taters would entirely free you up from even having to think about them. It would almost be like having a personal chef make the potatoes for you, and all you had to do was eat them. Crockpots are neat like that.

Read my review about Crock On here, or, if you want the recipe for crockpot mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and don’t want to bother with any ol’ reviews in case it talks about phenols and denaturing enzymes (which it doesn’t), buy it now for $5, or get it on Kindle. That’s how I’m making our mashed potatoes this year.

One more Thanksgiving tip:

Brine your turkey! It’s simple and makes all the difference for a juicy bird. Here’s how.

Jessica, I hope this tip for keeping potatoes from turning brown helps you out! Happy Thanksgiving! (Have a question? Submit it in the contact me section.)

What’s your best Thanksgiving dinner shortcut?

Truth in the Tinsel Advent Experience

Christy’s Simple Tip: Use a Whisk to Pick Up Eggs

Use a Whisk To Remove Eggs from Boiling Water or Dye Pinnable

Use a whisk to remove Easter eggs from a cup of dye without coloring your fingers, or to lift boiled eggs out of hot water without burning your hands and without dropping the slippery little buggers from a spoon. This also works to remove them from ice water if you cool your eggs after boiling.

Simple press the whisk onto the egg, and the little stinker should pop right through the loops on the whisk.

To remove the egg, separate the wires a tad and the egg should pop right out. If it doesn’t come out, it doesn’t deserve to be free.

Of course, if you like your kids to show up at church on Easter Sunday with dyed hands and wrists, you won’t want to use this technique. For our family the dyed hands on Easter are a tradition, and I’m not one to break with tradition.

I think I’m going to bring a whisk to the next egg-and-spoon race we’re invited to. That’s not cheating, is it?

To see your favorite simple tips featured on The Simple Homemaker (including a link to the page of your choice), please submit it through my contact page or send an email (pictures are optional) to TheSimpleHomemaker at gmail dot com with SIMPLE TIP in the subject.

Christy’s Simple Tips–How to Clean a Vacuum Beater Bar

Use a stitch ripper to clean a vacuum cleaner bar. | Simple Tips from The Simple Homemaker

When people find out that there are seven girls in our family of nine, they often remark to my son and husband, “Oh, you poor things!” Whatever. Wink.

The one who truly deserves the pity is our poor vacuum cleaner. The beater bar on the vacuum gets so wound up with girl and golden retriever hair that the beater bar becomes more of a carpet buffer.

No problem! With a few quick passes using a stitch ripper, the beater bar is as good as new. Just insert the tip in under the hair and slide the ripper through. Voila! (That’s vwah-la, for those of you who are pronouncing that vee-oh-la. Voila is French for “see there;” a viola is a stringed instrument. Get it? Got it? Good. Back to the vacuum beater bar.) It’s like new, and you didn’t break your scissors, slice a vital artery with a kitchen knife, or take apart the whole vacuum and forget how to put it back together again. Been there!

If you don’t have a stitch ripper, you can grab one at any craft or sewing store, or in the craft and sewing section of your local discount department store. They are also available online for a reasonable price. (This is an affiliate link. If you buy something through this link, a portion of Amazon’s profits go to us…so we can make cookies for the poor outnumbered boys in the family. Wink.)

Now go rescue your vacuum cleaners!

Contact me to submit your simple tips to Christy’s Simple Tips for future publication and a link to your blog or website.

Christy’s Simple Tips: Using Clothespins to Close Bags

Clothespins Pinnable

Instead of bulky, cumbersome chip clips or annoying little twist ties which were created only to aggravate parents of hungry children at lunch time, use clothespins to close bags in your kitchen. Simply fold down or twist the bag and attach a clothespin or two.

If the item belongs to one person in particular, use a permanent marker to write a name on the clothespin.

If you want to get really fancy (which is kinda the opposite of simple, but this is a great idea, so I’m going with it), paint the flat surface of the clothespin with chalkboard paint so you can write on it with chalk. Chalk is fun. Clothespins are fun. This is a win-win.

You could also spruce up your supply a bit by covering your entire house table with newspaper, setting out paints and markers, and letting your kids get in touch with their inner Monet and Picasso on your clothespins.

Snag a bag of 50 to 100 clothespins at most discount stores, department stores, or drugstores for only a buck or two. Some are better quality than others, but the cheapies are just fine for this purpose…even if they’re not sturdy enough for the job for which they were originally created.

I keep a small bin of clothespins in my “baggie” drawer where they don’t take up too much space.

Contact me if you would like your simple tip featured on Christy’s Simple Tips.

Christy’s Simple Tips: Simple Storage Solution

Pocket Shoe Holders Pinnable

Use a shoe holder to contain the little things that clutter up cupboards and shelves.

The one pictured above is hanging inside a laundry closet and is being used to store cleaning supplies.

We have one in our tiny bathroom in our travel trailer. We use it to store personal hygiene and first aid supplies—hairbrushes, shampoo, My Little Pony bandages—all the goodies!

We’ve used them for outdoor items, such as jump ropes, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. We’ve used them, for dusters and rags. We’ve used them for random homeschool helps and putzy little game items, such as decks of cards, wrap-ups, card holders for little hands, and the all-important place to store lonely game pieces. Poor little lonely game pieces. And, get this, we’ve even used them for shoes—I know, crazy!

The pocket holders are simple and cheap, can be cut down to size, and hide easily on the back of a laundry room door, in a bathroom, or on any wall.

Best of all, they pocket all your stuff–most of which you should just get rid of anyway. Ahem.

To submit your simple tip and receive a link to the page of your choice (blog, Pinterest, Instagram, website), please use the contact page or send an email (pictures are optional) to TheSimpleHomemaker at gmail dot com with SIMPLE TIP in the subject.

10 Tips For Clean Floors Without Cleaning (much)

In our former lives dwelling in a house of nine people and a shaggy dog the size of a Harley, floors could get pretty dirty.  I can think of about 18,274 things I would rather be doing than sweeping or mopping.  (Vacuuming I don’t mind, since it involves chasing down a laughing six-year-old boy who double dog dares me to vacuum up his toes, so that qualifies as family bonding.)

10 Tips for Clean Floors Without Cleaning (Much)

photo credit

As the great (and tidy) Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Applied to floors, it means “Don’t get them dirty in the first place and you won’t have to clean them.”  (Forehead smack.)  Why didn’t I think of that seven children ago?

As my gift to you other forehead smackers, here are ten tips for keeping your floors clean without actually cleaning (much).

10 Tips for Clean Floors

Tips for Clean FloorsEat only at the table.  This especially holds true if you have children or a hole in your lip (the most common excuse grown-ups use for spills).  In good weather, shoo everyone outside to eat and call it a picnic.

Tips for Clean FloorsDon’t wear shoes in the house.  This at first appears to fly in the face of some theories such as the Flylady’s dress to shoes philosophy, but you can switch to house shoes when at home.  Optionally, put comfy slippers on.  Don’t wear your house shoes or slippers outside…unless the house is on fire, naturally.

Tips for Clean FloorsTips for Clean FloorsBrush your pets daily…outside.  It will significantly reduce the amount of pet hair on your floors…and in your food.

Tips for Clean FloorsFeed your pets on a mat or outside. They might plead with those big brown puppy eyes to eat elsewhere, but resist.  Resist!

Tips for Clean Floors

Use one entrance to your home as much as possible. This confines the majority of the tracked-in dirt to one location.

Tips for Clean FloorsPlace mats on the floor near sinks and toilets. Better the spills and leaks go into a washable mat than onto the floor where they will get stepped in and tracked all over your carpet by a small child looking for Mama to announce “I missed.”

Tips for Clean FloorsCut back on floor clutter. The less you have on the floor, the easier it is to do quick maintenance cleans and prevent little messes from becoming ground in floor disasters.

Tips for Clean FloorsPlace floor mats inside each door and welcome mats outside of each door. This will trap a lot of dirt and debris. If you place a funky boot scraper/brush out there as well, people might (but no guarantee) use it.

Tips for Clean FloorsClean up spills immediately.  It’s easier to wipe up the PBJ splatters right away than to scrub them out of your carpet and off your couch after someone steps in it…and someone will step in it.

Tips for Clean Floors Tips for Clean FloorsKeep strollers and other outside “vehicles” outside.  No parking the mini van in the family room.  If tricycles and wagons must come in (and at our house, they must), run them over the welcome mat a few times, or pop shower caps on the wheels.

And a bonus tip: get a dog…with a big tongue…and name him Mop.

What’s your best tip for clean floors without actually cleaning (much)?

Linked up to Weekend Whatever, Teach Me Tuesday and Works-For-Me Wednesday.