The web is awash in tutorials for homemade natural dyes, one more elaborate than the next, with detailed instructions and fancy techniques and killer photography. And kudos to all those kitchen-crafty people who make things so darn pretty. But here’s what we do, egg dyeing at its simplest (with recipes inspired by my friend Kris Bordessa of Attainable Sustainable):
1. Hard-boil a bunch of eggs. It doesn’t matter if they’re white or pastel or brown. Each one lends itself to great color variations. (But choose local, pastured eggs if you can. Check out Local Harvest for why that’s important and where you can find good eggs near you.)
2. On your stove, set out four pots* with two cups of water each.
3. To one pot, add a hefty teaspoon of turmeric powder (that’s your yellow). To another, add a couple handfuls of chopped red beets, either fresh or jarred (that’s pink). To a third, add two cups of frozen blueberries or blackberries (your blue). Bring the pots to boiling, then let them simmer five minutes.
4. For the fourth pot, boil the water, then turn off the heat and add the contents of six chlorophyll capsules, which can be found in natural-foods stores (that’s your green).
5. After everything has cooled, strain out the chunky bits, then add a teaspoon of vinegar to each the beets (pink) and berries (blue).
6. Dunk eggs. Maybe mark them with crayons for fun designs. Keep dunking and cross-dunking and letting them soak a bit until you get colors you like. Be happy.
If you’d like to turn egg-dyeing into an egg-speriment, check out this earlier post, in which I describe using DIY egg dyes for a lesson in real vs. fake colors. That post also has links to some of those uber kitchen-crafty folks, in case you’d like to get fancy with your eggs. For my kind of fancy (i.e., easy), check out these marbled eggs that use a fun mishmash of materials.
Finally: Why bother with natural dyes? It’s fun, for one. But it’s also safer. Artificial food colors exist solely to trick and manipulate. They’re linked to long-term health problems. They can have devastating effects on children’s behavior and ability to learn. And government regulators and food manufacturers have failed to prove dye safety. In short: All risk. No benefit. And who needs that in their Easter basket?
*If you don’t have four pots, use a teapot to boil the water for the chlorophyll capsules. That one doesn’t need to simmer, so you can easily pour out two cups of water and mix the green in a separate bowl.