beet love



It was Mike’s birth­day a cou­ple of weeks ago, and I want­ed to bake him a cake. After see­ing the beet cake video by Tiger in a Jar I thought, why not? I’ll make a beet cake! :D

And after read­ing this post about tie-dye­ing with stuff in the kitchen, there was no way I was going to just pour all that beet water down the drain — I’ll dye stuff with it, while I bake the cake! :D

So we got the largest bunch of beets in the gro­cery store (they were sold by the bunch, not by weight).


They had beau­ti­ful­ly ruf­fled leaves with red veins.


I cut and boiled the beets in a large pot. Even threw in the stems, because they looked real­ly red.


I boiled the beets for a long time — prob­a­bly too long — so I could get as much colour out as pos­si­ble. But that was prob­a­bly why the cake in the end did­n’t taste much like beets :P After tak­ing the beets out I threw in a tied white cot­ton shirt and went on with the baking.


It called for bak­ing choco­late but I for­got to buy it. But we had choco­late coins! :D So I used those instead.


The cake bat­ter was SO pink!


While the cake was bak­ing, I took out the shirt and let it dry on the cloth­ing rack. I was pret­ty hap­py with the shade of pink. I also added a bit of cot­ton yarn to the dye bath half way through.


Ta-da! The cake was done! :D


Hap­py birth­day, Mike! :D He liked the cake. I think it tast­ed good, kind of like car­rot cake. Just a bit dis­ap­point­ed that it was­n’t pink inside, and the bits of beets had turned into a shade close to that of raisins.


The recipe yield­ed quite a large cake. It stood pret­ty tall in a 9″ round pan. I prob­a­bly could have made a small­er round cake and a loaf. We brought half to church the next day, and spent the next two evenings eat­ing beet cake for dessert. It was good though!

The yarn turned out with beau­ti­ful shades of pink after it dried.


And with it I cro­cheted a free-form heart.


The shirt, though, fad­ed a lot as it dried. So I dyed it again (I saved the beet water in the fridge after the ini­tial dye­ing, just in case I find oth­er things to dye in the next cou­ple of days), added vine­gar to it this time (because I read some­where that it helps to fix the colour in the fab­ric) so the whole shirt smelled like pick­led beets. The colour was more intense the sec­ond time. And I ironed it as it was dry­ing (because I read some­where that it also helps to set the colour). And then I put it in the wash because I could­n’t pos­si­bly wear a shirt that smelled like pick­led beets. And when it came out, all the colours had fad­ed to a yel­lowed old shirt colour :(


There’s no way I’m going to rinse the dyed yarn then. And the yarn does­n’t smell as much like pick­led beets.

Well, I was hop­ing to dye fab­ric with­out spe­cial dye agents or fix­a­tives but it looks like the colour would­n’t stay oth­er­wise. Or per­haps I did­n’t do it right… any­way, it was a fun exper­i­ment and I can always use the shirt for some oth­er dye­ing experiments ;)

Have a great start to the week, everyone!

5 thoughts on “beet love

  1. That’s inter­est­ing that the dying did­n’t work as well as we thought it would. Come to think of it though, I seem to remem­ber that beet juice stains always came out of cloth­ing fair­ly well…and remem­ber how all the pink left my hands after I washed them well when you guys were over for dinner?

    The cur­rent trend is to use beet juice extracts to dye foods nat­u­ral­ly (I’ve noticed it in a lot of prod­uct labels late­ly). But I guess it must not work as well for things you have to wash… haha, who thought we’d be com­plain­ing that stains come out too easily?

    The only things I can think of that would dye things nat­u­ral­ly and stick bet­ter would be coffee/tea and mustard…oh, what about red wine? (I guess the wine might be a tad on the expen­sive side for dying things…but maybe you could water it down?) Any­ways, i’ll stop ram­bling now. :)

  2. You had fun, that’s the main thing! And I bet you will con­tin­ue with your dye­ing adven­tures. I was talk­ing to a 93 year old lady the oth­er day who grew up in Nor­way; she said they would dye their yarn with onion peels and lychen.
    They raised the sheep, spun and dyed the yarn, and knit­ted sweaters, mit­tens, hats, etc.

  3. i agree, i def­i­nite­ly had fun! :D imag­ine that, mak­ing a sweater lit­er­al­ly from scratch! i’d love to be able to try that one day…

  4. yes! black tea was one of the dye­ing agent. wine is just fer­ment­ed grapes, isn’t it? so grape juice may work, perhaps?

  5. Hen­na ( is a good dye­ing agent and comes in pos­si­bly three nat­ur­al colours — red, black and indigo(not sure if indi­go and black are actu­al­ly from the same plant). I dyed my t‑shirt once back in col­lege with the nat­ur­al red hen­na and it turned out quite well. Try it if you can! Hen­na is real­ly cheap in India and rel­a­tive­ly cheap here in the UK.
    Good Post!

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