BACKGROUND: The interest in stable natural colorants for food applications continues to grow. A red pigment extracted from the leaf sheaths of a sorghum variety (Sorghum bicolor) with a high content of apigeninidin is widely used as a biocolorant in processed foods in West Africa. This study compared the colour and anthocyanin composition from traditional extraction methods to determine options for improvement and use of the red biocolorant from dye sorghum in the food sector. RESULTS: Sorghum biocolorant was commonly applied in fermented and heated foods. Traditional extraction methods predominantly differed in two aspects, namely the use of an alkaline rock salt (locally known as kanwu) and the temperature of the extraction water. Cool extraction using the alkaline ingredient was more efficient than hot alkaline and hot aqueous extractions in extracting anthocyanins. The apigeninidin content was three times higher in the cool and hot alkaline extracts than in the aqueous extract. CONCLUSION: Cool and hot alkaline extractions at pH8-9 were the most efficient methods for extracting apigeninidin from dye sorghum leaf sheaths. Broader use of the sorghum biocolorant in foods requires further research on its effects on nutrient bioavailability and antioxidant activity.
- Dye sorghum