Appreciate the vivid colors and natural beauty of fruits, vegetables and spices: dye your Easter eggs with everyday foods rather than with chemically-laden color tabs. Sure, it will take a little more planning than your basic Easter egg dye box, but you will find the extra time well worth it.
For more vibrant colors, place the sealed containers of natural dyes in the refrigerator and let the cooked eggs soak overnight. Adding vinegar to the boiling water will also help make the colors brighter. (One exception is with onion skins; do not add vinegar to the onion skins.) If you want shiny eggs, rub them with some vegetable oil once the dye is dry.
Below I have listed the natural foods I tried along with comments on the process. I have also listed a few recommendations that I didn’t try this time around but that I’ve heard work well. Let your kids take part in the brainstorming process of deciding what foods to use. And watch as they are surprised and amazed at the results.
What You’ll Need:
- White Eggs
- Cold Water
- Vinegar (Roughly 2 Tbsp to every pot of eggs you boil, except for the onion skins)
- One of the following natural dyes
*With some of the listed dyes, it is best to boil the eggs with the natural substance to achieve the most vibrant color. Those are indicated with an asterisk. With others, you can hard-boil the eggs first and then soak them in the respective natural dye.
*How to Dye the Eggs While They Cook:
Use a separate pan for each color. Add the eggs, natural substance, roughly 2 Tbsp vinegar and cold water to a pan—just enough to cover the eggs with water. You will want the color to be as concentrated as possible so be careful not to use too much water or else the color will be diluted. Bring the eggs to a boil and let the mixture boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat, cover it with a lid, and let simmer for 10-12 minutes.
The colors may not be that vibrant after the initial cooking time so I recommend transferring the eggs, liquid and some of the natural substance to a bowl and letting them cool completely. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to let the eggs dye for several hours or over night. I like including some of the fruit/vegetable substance because it adds patterns and specks to the eggs. If you want a more solid color, let the eggs soak over night in only the colored liquid.
How to Dye the Eggs After Cooked:
Using a separate bowl for each color, mix the natural dyes with the pre-boiled eggs. You will want the eggs to be completely covered by the dye but not by much so that the color is as concentrated as possible.
Once the eggs are dyed, remove them from the colored liquid, rinse with cold water and let them air dry for 5 minutes. Pat them dry with a paper towel. For a shiny finish, rub with vegetable oil.
*Pink = Beets
Cut one beet into chunks and cooked it with the eggs. The eggs turned a pale Victorian pink. For a brighter pink, try grating the beets or soaking pre-cooked eggs in beet juice.
*Yellow = Golden Beets
Cut one golden beet into chunks and cook with the eggs. The eggs turned a very pale yellow. For a brighter yellow, try soaking pre-cooked eggs in golden beet juice.
*Yellow = Turmeric
Put about 1 tsp turmeric powder in a small jar of water (big enough for only one egg). The egg will turn bright yellow with some orange specks.
Other Yellow Options: Orange Peels*, Green Tea, Cumin
Blue = Crushed Blueberries
Put about 1/4 cup frozen blueberries in a tall glass of water with two cooked eggs. Stir the blueberries, squishing them against the glass and the eggs. The eggs will turn a pale blue with some very interesting specks and streaks where the fruit touched the shell.
*Blue = Purple Cabbage Leaves
Boil two eggs with roughly half a head of purple cabbage. It may surprise you to see that contrary to the striking purple color of the dye, the eggs will turn a brilliant bright blue.
*Green = Spinach
I boiled a bag of spinach with two eggs. The dye was very pale so I added a box of frozen spinach in hopes of intensifying the green. The eggs stayed a very pale green. For a brighter green, next time I will try soaking pre-cooked eggs in spinach juice.
Other Green Options – Grass (rinsed and blended with water)
Boil two eggs with the skins of roughly three yellow onions. The eggs will turn a rich bronze-orange color. I loved the designs that the onion skins left on the eggs. Try intentionally wrapping the eggs in the onion skins to pattern the egg shells.
Dye two eggs in a jar of grape juice concentrate. The eggs will turn a bright pink-lavender color but will likely wash right off when rinsed. Re-soak in the grape juice (with water added to the mix). The result will be an interesting speckled pink-lavender.