After 3 or 4 years of "normal" Easter egg dying, our family decided to try something different (I'll admit we still used the store bought dye as well). But, to extend the experience we decided to pretend to be pioneers and use natural dyes for our eggs.
NOTE: We tend not to eat our natural dyed eggs. We've found they sometimes take on a bit of the flavor of what we died them with... cherry and onion flavored eggs are a bit icky.
The most foolproof natural dye, I've found so far is Tumeric (pictured above).
- Put eggs in as large a pan as possible. The process works better if the eggs aren't stacked on top of each other. This may mean you can only do 3 or 4 at a time (but that will give you the chance to try more than one kind of natural dye).
- Fill the pan with water so that it's about 1/2 inch over the eggs.
- Add 2 tsp vinegar (regular white vinegar) -- the only exception is don't add the vinegar when you're using onion skins. For some reason they react and make the eggs a rather brownish color.
- Optional: Add 1/2 tsp alum to the water -- makes the colors a bit brighter.
- Add the natural dye material
- it takes a fair amount of the dye... for example, we used 1 cup of cherries, 2 Tbsp tumeric, 2 cups of packed onion skins....
- Part of the fun of the "experiment" is trying to figure out how much of the material to add. Let the children be involved!
- Record observations in a journal for sharing with family or at school. Red cabbage leaves are especially exciting because they turn the eggs bluish not red.
- Bring water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
- With a strainer, remove the eggs onto a bowl covered with paper towel.
- If the eggs aren't as dark as you'd like, remove the paper towel
from the bowl and add the cooled strained liquid you originally used
to dye the eggs.
- Let sit overnight.
- This may make the egg shells weak (the vinegar weakens the shells).
- Carefully remove the eggs from the liquid and let sit in the air.
- The shells will harden again.
- When the eggs are dried, rub vegetable oil on with a paper towel for a glossy look.
Natural Dyes you might try:
Here are some that we've tried, but feel free to experiment! We've had success mixing and matching materials (like cherries and onion skins) to make different shades.
Red/Pink: Fresh beets, canned cherries or frozen, crushed cranberries (not cranberry sauce or jelly)
Orange: yellow onion skins
Light Yellow: lemon peels, orange peels or ground cumin
Golden yellow: Ground Tumeric (a kind of spice)
Blue: Red cabbage leaves or blueberries (crushed)
- Pre-boil red cabbage leaves for 30 minutes.
Purple: Grape juice (Welches)
We haven't tried these yet, but the following suggestions have been made to us by viewers.
Beige Strong coffee
??: Red Onion (Spanish Onion) skins
Red or Purple: Wild Raspberries