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pH 101 and Red Cabbage Indicator

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pH 101 and Red Cabbage Indicator

Kitchen Chemistry Class

The following is supplementary information, to extend class work and lab work for my culinary students.
But if you are interested in doing some at-home science experiments, to follow is research done for you. The more that kids learn about the foods they put in their bodies, the better! Knowledge equips us to make better choices. Plus, why not get the kids doing more kitchen work, especially when it is so much fun! Seriously, I suffered through a lot of, let’s say “interesting” dishes while my kids were learning to cook… but now they can cook for me! 😀 Method to my madness.

Feel free to use this information at home and be sure to check out the sources at the bottom of the page.

And hey, we do even more cool stuff in the class, so if you can schedule a class, go for it! And I will do the work for you.

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Question

Can red cabbage work as a pH indicator?

What We Will Learn

  • How to use red cabbage to test acidity and alkalinity
  • Culinary skill: how to make natural purple and blue food coloring

Vocabulary

pH: measures acids and bases; a number between 0 and 14 that indicates if a chemical is an acid or a base

acid: if a liquid produces more hydrogen (H), it is an acid. Acids taste sour. Example: vinegar

base: if a liquid produces more hydroxide (OH), it is a base. Bases taste bitter and are slippery. Example: baking soda

anthocyanin: a blue, violet, or red flavonoid pigment found in red cabbage

How it Works

Check out this video demo from The Sci Guys.

Seriously, watch the video. It is awesome! It explains everything in one nice neat little nutshell.

Experiment

How to Apply this to Food

Blue food coloring is difficult to create without artificial food dyes. Think about it… how many actual blue foods can you name?

So if you want a blue food coloring with ingredients you can feel really good about, red cabbage is your best bet. Look how gorgeous it gets when you reduce it down to a thick syrup and just add baking soda. So cool!

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Then you can make cupcakes that look like this.

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Wanna know how to do this? Click here.

Here is the whole range of colors you can get from cabbage.

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This image (above) is from Taylor Made Science.

But to get some of those colors, you will need to use toxic ingredients. So if you play with colors, have fun! Be careful! And don’t eat them. 🙂

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If you want colors you can eat, your best bet is to stick with all the gorgeous shades you can get from adding baking soda. Although… I have read that you can add beetroot powder to get yellow! But I have not tried this for myself yet.

Left to right: Red cabbage with Vinegar, Distilled Water, Baking Soda

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If you want red food coloring, try beets! Click here.

For green coloring, chlorophyll. Check it out here. 

More about Acids and Bases

This video is lengthy, but really good if you want to really understand acids and bases.

If you want a really nerdy earwig…

Tim and Moby 🙂

 

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