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How to naturally dye eggs

Mar 10th, 2011 | Category: Crafts

By Jennifer Morrison

Every month brings its seasonal crafts. In April, my kids enjoy coloring Easter eggs.

Years ago I used a store-bought kit to color eggs with my kids. However, I began to wonder what fruits, vegetables and spices we can use that could naturally dye eggs. It has become a fun, science experiment as we mix and try various produce and spices to see what we can create. Sometimes, the colors will not turn out nearly as vibrant as what you get when using a chemical kit, but overall, the colors are beautiful, natural, and you’ve created them all on your own.

A basket of naturally dyed eggs. PHOTO BY BECCA SCHWARZ COLE

The general recipes for coloring hard-boiled eggs requires the addition of one tablespoon of distilled vinegar per cup of water or juice, which makes the color stick.

The longer the eggs remain in the color mixtures, the deeper the tones will be. For lighter tones, try a half hour to hour, and for dark tones, leave the eggs to color overnight. We do this as a project after dinner, with some eggs completed before bedtime, and the remaining eggs ready when the kids wake up the next morning.

A favorite way to design eggs, especially for kids, is to write on the eggs with crayons to make all kinds of shapes, anything from stars, waves and dots to writing the child’s name. Be sure to write on the egg before it is dipped into the coloring mixture. The parts of the eggs covered in crayon will not be covered by the dye.

Other design tips include mixing the color to create other shades, and to use a cotton ball moistoned with olive oil to create shiny effect on dry, colored eggs.

Of course, white eggs are better for coloring than brown or green eggs. Some of the lighter toned brown and green eggs will change in some color, but we add all kinds of eggs to our basket to create a varying, natural effect.

Here are some basic color ideas to work with at home.

• Red: Boil two beets in two cups of water for about 15 minutes, then strain and cool the liquid, adding 1 tablespoon of distilled vinegar. For a varying red, try several beets boiled and mashed, then mixed in a dark berry or cranberry juice and vinegar.

• Blue: Use 8 to 16 ounces of frozen blueberries. Either submerge the eggs into the blueberries with its juice, some water, and vinegar, or bring the berries to a boil in about two cups of water and add vinegar. Chopped red cabbage leaves also makes a nice blue.

• Pink: A cup of defrosted frozen cherries or cranberries mixed with 1 cup of water and a tablespoon of vinegar.

• Yellow: Head to the spices for turmeric. Mix three tablespoons with a cup of water, and add vinegar.

• Orange: Three tablespoons of chili powder, water and vinegar.

• Green: Boil 2 cups of mixed green leaves, such as spinach or kale, with 8 ounces of  canned blueberries and their juice. Add a few tablespoons of tumeric and vinegar.

• Brown or Tan: Brew fresh coffee and cool, add vinegar. Depending on the strength of your coffee and how long the eggs stay in, you will get shades of brown and tan.

Jennifer Morrison is a homemaker who enjoys gardening, food preservation and making things from scratch and by hand, in Skagit County.

One Comment to “How to naturally dye eggs”

  1. Yay. Was just thinking about some options to Paas!

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