After living for umpteen years, I have never thought of identifying what is it that creates the vibrant colors that I see and adore every day. Generally, I thought that colours for dyes are only made from mixtures of three primary colors which are cyan, magenta and yellow. But little did I know until my mother told me, that plants which include the tree, leaves, flowers and roots have hues that function as a source in making dyes including food colouring. The first thing that came to mind was the thought of mans cruelty to use such beauty as a colouring source.
But after sourcing for some information, it seemed that plants have been used to make dyes for decades. Here are some examples:
Let’s start with the famously known Henna tree which is also known as Pokok Inai in Malay. Henna is a very unique plant where all you have to do is just pound the leaves and you can obtain its intense natural reddish-orange hue. Because of that, Henna has been widely used as a dye for hair, skin and fingernails. You would have probably seen hair dyes in black and brown, but that isn’t the original color of the Henna plant. The natural and original Henna plant only produces reddish-orange hues.
Scientific name: Lawsonia inermis (Henna)
Other than Henna, turmeric or kunyit in Malay, which is known as a cooking spice also acts as food dye, as the turmeric rhizome has a limitless natural yellow pigment ranging from bright yellow to deep orange, depending on the variety. It can just turn everything yellow! Some Malaysian dishes that use turmeric are chicken turmeric, yellow glutinous rice and gulai lemak.
Scientific name: Curcuma longo (Turmeric)
Scientific name: Clitoria flower (Butterfly Pea Plant)
Shared by Ruby, Intern at Petrosains