Food Coloring 101: Liquid vs. Gel vs. Powder

So what’s the difference between liquid food coloring versus a gel/paste or a powder version? And more importantly, why should you care?

Basically the difference between the three types of food coloring is dilution level.
Less liquid = more concentrated color.  In general, gel/paste food coloring can be used interchangeably with liquid coloring, you will simply need to use much less (gel/paste colors can be very cost effective!).   A powdered color is used most often in applications where water is prohibited, such as in chocolate and dry mixes.

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Liquid Food Coloring

  • Produces the softest level of color.
    (Note:  LorAnn’s liquid coloring is professional strength and is more concentrated than typical grocery-store liquid food coloring).
  • To use:  Add liquid food coloring by the drop until desired color level is achieved.
  • Ideal for tinting hard candy & lollipops, frostings, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and Easter eggs (mix with water and vinegar).

Gel/Paste Food Coloring

  • Produces dark, saturated color.
  • To use:  For gel food coloring in a pot, we recommend using a toothpick and adding a small amount, adding more as needed.  For gel colors in a squeeze bottle, add by the drop.  It’s easy to over-do it, so start with a small amount of color and work your way up.
  • Can be used interchangeably with liquid food coloring, just use less.
  • Ideal for adding color to larger batches and where adding too much liquid is an issue.

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Powder Food Coloring

  • Produces the deepest, ultra-dark level of color.
  • To use:  Scoop a tiny amount of powder food coloring and add to dry ingredients.  For tinting chocolate or confectionery coating (candy melts), start with a small amount of melted chocolate or coating and mix in powdered colorant to form a deeply colored ‘marble’.  Mix this ‘marble’ into your larger batch of melted chocolate or coating.  Repeat if necessary to create a darker hue.
  • Ideal for tinting chocolate, dry mixes, and anywhere water is prohibited.  Can be used to color hard candy and lollipops.
  • Fun fact:  Those colorful clouds of powder that runners enjoy in a Color Run is typically a mixture of a small amount of powdered food coloring and corn starch.

 

 

 

 

 

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