Mommy's Time Out Magazine November Issue - Page 8

super scientist

science experiment: cranberry Chemistry

adapted from

Cranberries take center stage in the fall. Their bright red hue brings lots of color to our tables. Cranberries contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are pigments that change color depending on if they are reacting with an acid or a base. Because cranberries are naturally acidic (it is part of the reason they have a such a tart taste) the anthocyanin reacts with the acid to make the berries red. However, if you change the acidity, you can change the color too. Give it a try with this experiment!

What you need:

-cranberry juice

-baking soda


- lemon juice

- bowl or jar


1 Pour one cup of cranberry juice into the glass.

2. Add a tablespoon of baking soda and observe the reaction. Things to look out for are bubbling, noises, and changes in how the liquid looks.

3. Wait 2 minutes, and observe if any changes occur.

4. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice, and again, pay attention to see if there is any reaction.


Baking soda is a base, so as it reacts with the acidic juice, you may get some foam. The colors will begin to alter as the baking soda reacts with the anthocyanin. When you add the lemon juice, which is acidic, it should neutralize the basic baking soda to again react with the anthocyanin and bring the juice back around to a more red color again..

To learn more, you can do experiments like testing if the order ingredients are mixed will lead to different effects, or change the amounts of each ingredient you mix. Another thing you could do is try adding baking soda and lemon juice at the same time, or use other acids, like vinegar. If you decide to add lemon juice or vinegar with baking soda at the same time, be ready for a foamy mess! Remember that volcano experiment from school? Yeah...don't do that in your kitchen. Take that outside!