Orange is a compelling color found in fruits and vegetables. It is high in antioxidants when eaten, and a prized color that conveys warmth and cheerfulness. Although the color orange occurs frequently in nature, making this secondary color means combining the primary colors of red and yellow in varying measures. These colors can come from food coloring or from flowers, fruits or vegetables. Most dyes are vegetables based, so making the color orange isn't difficult. Try a few combinations for fun when you cook.
Mix red and yellow liquid food coloring in various measures to produce the secondary shade of orange. It is a wet dye and dilutes every thing to which it is added making it suitable for drinks, but not frosting. Mix a better solution by using cake-decorating paste that is much thicker and more concentrated. Use a toothpick dipped in red and another dipped in yellow and added to butter and powdered sugar frosting to produce the shade you want.
Make an oil-based solution by simmering two or three tbsp. of annatto seeds with two cups of cooking oil. The seeds release their dye and the oil turns dark orange. Decant the cooled oil into a container and use it whenever you want golden orange sautéed food. The end product is much more appealing to the eye than it would be if it were sautéed in regular oil.
Infuse pureed orange fruits into sorbets to turn them orange. They are also attractive when added to oil and vinegar based salad dressing. The same pureed fruits can be turned into ice cube trays, frozen and then used in drinks to add color as well as flavor. Zest the outer skin of oranges for a secondary pop of color and flavor.
Add cooked, pureed orange vegetables, such as pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes or yams, carrots, orange, red or yellow peppers and even seeded and skinned tomatoes to mashed potatoes for a flavor change and a great deal of color difference on a plate. Top with shredded Cheddar cheese for that extra flavor and color.
Use saffron in your cooking and turn plain white rice dark yellow orange. Saffron is the dark orange stamen of the crocus that was first grown by Mongols who took it to India where it is used to color and flavor their food today. A less expensive substitute is turmeric that produces color but not the distinct saffron flavor.
Check out the various shades of orange in Mexican cooking. Most of it comes from tomatoes. Mix tomato paste with tamarind paste and you not only get a memorable flavor but a nice color.