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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Color stability for a fruit infused spirit

We are having a few problems with the color stability of a gin that we are infusing with blueberries. We have sweetened with cane sugar to 2%-3% by weight and added Ascorbic Acid to a rate of 2 grams/gallon of 80 proof spirit. We are still seeing some color degradation. The measured pH is right around 4.

Does anyone have suggestions on this?

I appreciate the help.



a higher sugar content may help with color stability


BKamphuis, did you ever find a resolution to this?



We haven't been able to get the color stability we had hoped for.  We actually ended up running the blueberry steeped gin back through the still to remove the color and keep the flavor. 




Bummer, I was hoping you'd found a solution!


BKamphuis, Did you ever find a solution to it?


Also interested if BKamphuis found a solution. 


We did a Blackberry Vodka this summer and had colour stability problems right to the end. Red is a very difficult colour to work with. Any ideas (that are as natural as possible), would be well received.


It’s a tricky topic - by our nature craft distillers tend to lean towards being very natural in ingredients used and process.

Color starts to really shift into food science, and starts to give us natural distillers real heartburn because we start talking about unnatural additives.  Natural colors tend to be very unstable and while artificial colors fix that - it’s about as far away as possible from what we are trying to accomplish.

The universe of stable natural colors is small.  The techniques to stabilize tend to be difficult or require additional additives.  Heck, most of us would even have issues with using a natural color additive.  Even then, customers may take issue with the source. Example.  A beautiful natural stable red is easy - carmine - except it’s crushed beetles - and some people don’t like that.  Proof is in the pudding though.  Old Campari still looks great.

The colors from fruit or florals we might use?  Ticking time bombs.

Stopping them from shifting boils down to:

Research and journal articles around color stability for your specific botanical or fruit. You aren’t the first person to be ticked off about the color of blueberry.

Ensuring the pH is ideal for the color.  The pH will accelerate or retard the color shift.

Adding antioxidants to prevent oxidation.

Religiously preventing oxygen exposure.  Purging tanks, purging bottles, even purging oxygen out of liquid.  Ensuring filling doesn’t create a massive oxidation problem.

Storing the product cooler.

Reducing exposure to light.

Smaller batch sizes and less total shelf life.

Perhaps smaller bottle sizes to ensure quicker consumption (browning will accelerate once customers open the bottle).

Research, and befriend a good food scientist (it’s easy, they like food).


fantastic post Silk! I am going to be entering this product segment soon and everything you say around carmine, additives, unnatural or natural colour additives is right where my head is at.

The conclusion i have come up with is to make very small batches and advise customers that due to the nature of the product, keep it dark and consume within 6 months.

OP - what kind of time are you experiencing colour degradation? weeks? months?

Reply:4 hours ago, needmorstuff said:

or fridge maybe

what I don't get from the study silk linked is this statement - I read that as more colour was lost in the cold. guess that's why i'm not a scientist.


"Color retention was significantly decreased to 93.5% and 93.8% at 4°C and −20°C, respectively, after 7 weeks, while 95.40% at −75°C. We suggest that blueberry juice color can be protected by keeping the extraction temperature below 60°C with the selective addition of glucose, galactose, or citric acid. For long-term storage, it is recommended to use a light-protected container and a deep freezer at −75°C."



re-reading that too and open to giving up my science badge. 

I see "Dark for 7 weeks" retained 58.7% color; light for 7 weeks, only 48.9% of color retained.   But  then the verb changed, so "color retention...decreased to" 93.5% (from 100%?) meaning only 6.5% loss(?) at -4C, while retained 95.4% at-75C.   We don't have a freezer at -75C if that was the article's recommendation.  A -4 C we could perhaps recommend (25 degrees F, plus or minus).  I wonder why the article's authors jumped from -4C to -75C (-103 F).  Neither of those temps seem to be normal food service/industry standards, though they could be.  "Below 40 F" and "below 0 F" I could see as more normal standards.

The color in the dark was kept by 58.7% after 7 weeks, while 48.9% in the light. Color retention was significantly decreased to 93.5% and 93.8% at 4°C and −20°C, respectively, after 7 weeks, while 95.40% at −75°C.    Or did they mean "color loss...decreased" to 93.5%?

Our experiments shows no discernible visible change of color from a multi-berry gin infusion held roughly at  18 C/65 degrees F over 8 weeks, but then our lab area is mostly in the dark.  We haven't applied for COLA yet, so thinking to at least add "Keep in the dark!"  



Not just me then. 

I will make a small batch and keep a few behind in various positions, full light, full dark, fridge. But even then it's one thing to advise a consumer but a retailer will store it wherever they like! ultimately there doesn't seem to be a solution for us minnows.

How about this,

"Color retention was significantly increased to 93.5% and 93.8% at 4°C and −20°C, respectively, after 7 weeks, while 95.40% at −75°C. "