Brilliant Beet Dye for Bread Dough

I promised that today's post would be about how to make dye from red beets.

Yesterday I colored challah dough with beet dye:

The dye is a potent, brilliant magenta color. It is a healthy, edible, natural colorant. The taste is mild, subtly sweet, and easily overpowered. In challah, the taste is barely, if at all, detectable.

To make the dye, you will need:

  • A bunch of fresh red beets.
  • A deep saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
  • A fork.
  • An airtight plastic container, in which to store the beet dye:
The recipe:

  1. Separate the root vegetable (the dark red bulbs) from the been greens (the leafy parts). Reserve the beet greens to enjoy later.
  2. Wash the beet bulbs. Leaving their skins on, place the whole beets in a deep saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the saucepan, just enough water to thinly cover the bottom of the pot. Tightly cover the pot.
  3. On medium heat, bring the water to a simmer. Immediately lower the heat. After 25 minutes, pierce each beet with a fork. If the beet flesh yields easily (but not too easily), the beets are done. If not, replace the lid on the pot and simmer for another 5 minutes. Test again. Repeat until you are convinced the beets are done.
  4. Leaving the beets in the pot, pierce each beet multiple times with the fork. This will allow some of their magenta juice to run into the bottom of the pot.
  5. Carefully remove the beets, one by one, and place in a large bowl. Set aside to cool. (The beets are edible and can be used, for example, to make our House Salad.)
  6. Allow the saucepan to cool. Then drain the deeply colored liquid in the bottom of the saucepan into your airtight plastic container. This is your beet dye, ready to be used to color dough. I have found that it also stores well in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Here is what to expect, as the dye begins to seep from the beets as they steam:

The finished dye, after removing the steamed beets from the pot:

To review yesterday's challah: As I suspected, the challah--while perfectly palatable--looked better than it tasted. As novice bread bakers, we all face challenges. Mine is, my bread invariably looks better than it tastes.

Cutting into the challah heart:

The test of a bread in our house: The faster we devour it, the more successful the loaf. A delicious bread is gone by nightfall. Yesterday, we barely munched our way through half a challah heart.

The verdict: This Valentine's Day challah made a better centerpiece than satisfying snack:

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