What’s the difference between gel and liquid food colors? If you’ve always wondered the answer to the question, here are the answers for you.
If you’re a newbie baker and have been eyeing a red velvet recipe that you really wanna try, then this question has 100% popped in your head. So let’s find out what actually is the difference between liquid and gel food colors and which ones you should be using in baking to get the best color.
Liquid Food Colors
Traditionally a mixture of synthetic colouring and water, liquid food colors are the most commonly available food colors in the markets today. The great about them is that they’re atleast 10 times cheaper than gel food colors; which makes them a viable option if you’re just tinting your cookie icings or buttercreams. The downside to these colors is that you need to use A LOT to get a vibrant colour. Since they’re water based, they’re not concentrated enough which makes it harder to achieve an intense color.
Another downside to liquid colors is that if you do end up putting a lot of it in, you could throw off the balance and texture of the recipe. For example, adding too much of it could make your frostings watery and hard to pipe.
Gel Food Colors
Gel colors are made with synthetic coloring usually mixed with glycerine as the base making them thicker. They comes in small tubes or tubs by brands like Wilton, Dr. Oetkar, Americolor. Gel food colors are a superior quality product which is why they’re priced high. A small tube of a gel color could cost you an upwards of Rs. 500. But the great thing about gel food colors is that because they’re concentrated, you don’t need to use a lot of it. A little but goes a long way when it comes to gel food colors.
These are especially great when you’re making red velvet cakes where you need to get that vibrant red colour ;or a vibrant green to make grass. The downside is the price and the lack of availability. Gel food colors by Wilton and Americolor are great but really hard to find in India, the ones you do get in supermarkets are by Dr. Oetkar but they’re still not as concentrated as you’d like them to be.
OTHER COLOR OPTIONS: Another artificial color option available in the markets is powdered food color, this is by far the most inferior quality of product so unless it’s made with natural colors, DO NOT use them in baking. They lend a bad after-taste and are in general just not good for your health if used too frequently.
However, these days some natural food dyes have popped up in the market which are healthiest to use in baking. Sprig has done a range of colors, but the colors aren’t that exciting.