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Magical Color Changing Punch from ChefSarahElizabeth.com

This is one of my favorite birthday party tricks! I think it is so cool, and kids think it’s pretty cool, too. Who doesn’t love magic, especially when it involves food? I set up this magical, color-changing punch at a recent My Little Ponies theme birthday party. I prepared everything and Birthday Girl got to be the magician and impress all her friends by turning some blue punch into pink punch. Birthday Girl had a blast making magic, and all the other kids were in awe of her color-changing skills. The best part of this food magic is that it is all natural. No artificial colors or food dyes here. The first secret to this magic trick is purple cabbage. Yep! Purple cabbage turns water blue. The second secret? Lemons! Acid turns purple cabbage pink.

Magical Color Changing Punch from ChefSarahElizabeth.com

Okay so let’s break it down. This isn’t really magic at all, it is science! Science is pretty stinkin’ cool, and food science is even cooler. Purple cabbage is purple because of something called flavenoids (the more science-y name is Anthocyanin). These flavenoids are molecules that turn plants purple, red, pink, and just about any color in that spectrum. They are responsible for some leaves turning from green to red in the fall! You can also find purple cauliflower at fancy stores and farmer’s markets, and guess what? That purple cauliflower is purple for the same reason as purple cabbage. That’s right: anthocyanins! See? Isn’t science fun?!

Anthocyanins are affected by acids in the environment. We can force this interaction by purposely introducing an acid to the purple plant. In this case, our acid is lemon juice (because really our punch is lemonade). You can also do this color change trick on purple cauliflower. Steam some purple cauliflower and then squeeze a bit of lemon juice on it, and voila! You’ll have a cool pattern of pinks and purples on your side dish for dinner that night. What is actually being affected when you introduce an acid to a purple plant is something called the pH level. A quick Google search informs me that pH is an abbreviation for “potential hydrogen” and that a pH level is the measure of a solution’s hydrogen-ion concentration. Well I’m no scientist, and that was a lot of scientist lingo up there. I don’t quite understand it all. I really should take that food science class I’ve been eyeing. Then you all would have to call me Miss Scientist Chef Daisy. Has a nice ring to it, huh?

Magical Color Changing Punch from ChefSarahElizabeth.com

Anyway, I may not understand all the science behind this magic party trick, but I do understand that it is a super cool and fun show for kids of all ages at birthday parties. Or just at home on a weekend when you’re in the mood for a little food fun. And really, who isn’t in the mood for some food fun? Also, it is so easy to do!

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Magical Color-Changing Punch
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Ingredients

  • 1 head purple cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pitcher of your favorite lemonade recipe

Instructions

  1. Place the chopped cabbage in a strainer over a large, shatter-proof container.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then pour over the cabbage. The resulting liquid will be bright blue.
  3. Pour the blue liquid into a clear pitcher or several small drinking glasses.
  4. Pour the lemonade on top of the blue water and watch as it magically (science-ly) turns bright pink!

Notes

Purple cabbage turns water blue the second they touch. So you can skip the boiling water part, but the resulting liquid will be very pale blue. The boiling water helps create a darker, brighter blue.

If you want to turn the water an even darker blue, or a purple (which will make the resulting pink darker), you can add the cabbage to the boiling water, turn off the heat, and let it soak for 10-20 minutes. The only downfall to the soaking method is that the water will start to take on the flavor of boiled cabbage (not very tasty). However! You can combat this by just adding tons of sugar or honey to the water before boiling to make a simple syrup.

http://chefsarahelizabeth.com/2013/08/09/magical-color-changing-punch/

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24 Comments on Magical Color-Changing Punch

  1. Becca
    August 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm (4 years ago)

    That’s a really neat science spell! And if you spill cabbage water on yourself, it also can make color changing clothes, haha.

    Reply
  2. Tricia
    May 19, 2014 at 7:14 am (3 years ago)

    What a great idea! Thanks for doing the science research too! What proportion of blue water to lemonade do you use? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Daisy
      May 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Tricia,

      I fill up the bottles about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way with the blue water and then pour in the lemonade to fill it up the rest of the way. I imagine if you use more blue water you’ll get a darker pink color as the resulting drink, but use too much blue water and you’ll get a hint of cabbage which does not appeal to me.

      Reply
  3. Jaime
    September 15, 2014 at 8:12 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi, Love this idea and want to do it at my child’s upcoming party. However, the party isn’t at my home and therefore everything will be transported to the party location. Does the blue water remain blue over a few hours or will it start to lose it’s color?
    Thanks a ton!!!

    Reply
    • Daisy
      September 16, 2014 at 6:31 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Jaime,

      The water will stay blue! You could even make the blue water and the lemonade the night before!

      Reply
  4. Beth Henry
    March 25, 2015 at 2:58 pm (2 years ago)

    This is great! We’re going to do it this weekend for my seven year old daughter’s magic-themed birthday party this weekend. We tried it today to be sure it worked for us. Loved it! We also experimented with mixing the cabbage juice and orange juice. It came out a beautiful pink TBT reminds me of grapefruit juice. Fun!

    Reply
  5. Ashley
    June 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm (2 years ago)

    Did you use regular (yellow) lemonade, or pink lemonade?

    Reply
    • Daisy
      June 9, 2015 at 5:53 pm (2 years ago)

      Regular yellow lemonade! I make my own by mixing lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice water.

      Reply
  6. Liz
    August 13, 2015 at 1:38 am (2 years ago)

    I want to create a blue lemonade, any possibility if I play with the proportion of lemons? Or the acid is just too strong.

    Reply
    • Daisy
      August 13, 2015 at 8:40 am (2 years ago)

      The acid from the lemons turns the liquid pink as soon as it touches so there isn’t a way to keep it blue. I’ve blended mixed berries into lemonade before for a purple-ish color. Blueberries tend to look purple when cooked, but maybe they would stay blue if you left them raw and blended them into the lemonade?

      Reply
  7. Genevieve
    September 12, 2015 at 6:15 pm (2 years ago)

    I made this “magic lemonade” for a magic themed party today. It worked perfectly! I poured the piping hot blue water over the cabbage for a second time and it made the color a little deeper. No one mentioned anything about cabbage and it was a total hit. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Daisy
      September 12, 2015 at 7:00 pm (2 years ago)

      This is so wonderful! I am very happy to hear that you made this and that it was hit! Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  8. Brittany
    November 14, 2015 at 7:11 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi! Where did you get your bottles?

    Reply
    • Daisy
      November 15, 2015 at 9:43 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Brittany,

      I got the bottles from Michael’s. They’re actually bud vases and aren’t great as drinking glasses. 😉

      Reply
      • Brittany
        November 16, 2015 at 4:24 am (2 years ago)

        Thank you so much! I am using them as decoration. 🙂

        Reply
  9. Inigo
    December 15, 2015 at 2:54 pm (1 year ago)

    Just wanted to add that if you don’t want to use cabbage, you can find blue tea online. It’s called “butterfly pea flower”, and is an edible flower that turns hot water blue when brewed like tea (it starts off teal, but give it some time to steep and it will turn to royal and then cobalt blue). The tea itself doesn’t taste like anything, and turns a bright purple when acid is added. You can even get the seeds and grow your own!

    Reply
  10. Rachel M.
    August 27, 2016 at 7:17 pm (9 months ago)

    I want to make a sparkling blue punch. If I add white grape juice and club soda or sparkling water, will it still stay blue?

    Reply
  11. Casey
    October 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm (7 months ago)

    I tried to make this, but it came out purple! So I had to use other’s advice to add a small bit of baking soda!

    Reply

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