Looking for a fun, all-natural way to color Easter eggs this year? Try using food to dye your eggs! Egg shells are actually semi-permeable, so if you plan to eat the eggs later (and who wants to waste eggs?) it makes good sense to dye them with something that you wouldn’t mind putting in your mouth. Natural dyes also produce beautiful, subtle colors that give your eggs a soft, earthy and unique look! All the more appealing when they turn up on the breakfast table or in a lunch box on Monday.
One of the fun things about using food to make all-natural egg dyes is that sometimes it’s surprising what colors you end up with! If you’re doing this with your kids, it’s fun to start out having them guess what color each item will make. There are many different ways to make egg dyes, but here’s a list to get you started (find these recipes and others at the Better Homes and Gardens website):
Cut 1/4 of a head of red cabbage into chunks, and boil in 4 cups of water. Allow it to cool, then strain out the cabbage chunks. Stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
Red onion skins (makes brown to green dye)
Peel the skins from six red onions, and boil them in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Strain, then stir in 3 teaspoons of vinegar.
Turmeric (makes yellow dye)
Stir 2 Tablespoons of ground turmeric into 1 cup of boiling water. Stir in 2 teaspoons vinegar. (Expect to need to rinse the eggs after they’re out of the dye, we found that the ground turmeric leaves a film on the eggs.)
Beets (makes pink/red dye)
Add 1 chopped beet to 4 cups of boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar, and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the beets.
Grape Juice (makes gray/lavender dye)
Mix 1 cup of grape juice with 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
Once you choose the colors and prepare the dyes, you’re ready to get started. You’ll want your boiled eggs cold or room temperature…here’s a tutorial on how to do it (and, if you’re making quite a few….try the roasting method!). Although we normally like brown eggs, when we are making so many of them we use the white kind. And, the dye does show up better on the white egg shells.
You can have a lot of fun dying the eggs one at a time, making them fancy. We like to write on the eggshells with beeswax before dying them to create a fun, contrasting patterns on your eggs. Or, pack as many eggs into the dye as you can and leave them for a long time (30 minutes or more) to get a deeper, more vibrant shade. Rub the finished eggs with a little oil and let it soak in, for a shiny finish!
We’ve noticed that sometimes you don’t get the color that you’re expecting out of your dyes…you have to be willing to be a little bit flexible when you make your own egg dyes. Sometimes the pigments in your vegetables are just different, and one head of cabbage (for example) might vary from the next as far as how the dye turns out. It’s part of the fun to get varied results, and the soft and natural hues are really very pretty…though different from the bright hues of chemical dyes, they have a very special look to them. Enjoy!