Extracted from the shells of the cochineal beetle, cochineal is a purplish-red color from WILD's Colors from Nature®. Cochineal extracted with water creates a solution of carminic acid, proteins, and minor quantities of several salts -- one of the few water-soluble colorants that resist degradation with time. Carminic acid is one of the most light and heat stable of all the natural colorants and is more stable than many synthetic food colors. Carminic acid precipitated on a base of aluminum or calcium salts forms a water- and oil-insoluble pigment called carmine. Depending on the metal used, different shades of the carmine pigment can be obtained, ranging from bright "strawberry" magenta to "black currant" purple.
Derivatives from cochineal are increasing in use due to the influence of the "natural" trend. Cochineal extract and carmine are ideally suited and utilized for a variety of food products, including meat, sausages, and red marinades. Cochineal and its derivatives find further important application in fruit preparations, jams, gelatin desserts, juice beverages, non-carbonated soft-drinks, baked goods, confections, icings, toppings and dairy products.