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.
This is great! I just might try it this year. Thanks for the great how-to.
Glad to hear that, Sally! It’s really so much easier than it might seem. And I love the muted colors and unpredictable variations. Have fun!
Thank you for this. We are definitely going to try it. And the bonus is that I don’t have to worry about the baby eating the dye 🙂
We have also used artichokes as dye – when you boil one for awhile, the water comes out to be a really pretty aqua or teal.
You should try the onion dyed eggs. Collect the brown peels from yellow onions and make a nice layer in the bottom of a sauce pan. Add water and set to boil. Then take an uncooked egg and place stickers or rubber bands or whatever on the eggs. Then wrap each in a piece of pantyhose. Put the eggs in the sauce pan and boil as you would regularly. once they are boiled, remove pan from heat and let cool. Once cool, unwrap and remove the stickers and such. The eggs take on a nice golden brown color and do not take on the onion flavor. The pantyhose help hold what you place on the egg in place. I have even used pretty shaped artificial flower leaves. Very pretty!