Like most families, we enjoy making Easter eggs with the store-bought kits. But this Easter, instead of dyeing our eggs the way we always have in the past, we are experimenting with natural dyes found in our own kitchen. Natural dyes provide a depth and variety of color and tone that the packaged, tablet dyes can’t deliver. Plus, everyone will have an opportunity to see how everyday foods can be used to create beautiful treasures for the Easter morning egg hunt.
Using natural dyes
Wear smocks or aprons for this project to avoid staining your clothes.
Begin with a dozen hard-boiled eggs. Choose the materials that you will need to create your natural dyes (see chart for suggestions). You can use fresh, frozen or canned produce. Some of the materials will need to be boiled first in order to impart color. Add white vinegar—two to three teaspoons per cup of dyeing liquid—to all of the dye materials to create a deeper color.
Dip your egg into the dye and allow it to sit for at least five minutes. Check the egg to see if it has reached the desired color. If not, let the egg sit in the dye for more time. If you want to achieve a more intensely colored egg, strain the dye through a coffee filter or sturdy paper towel. Cover the eggs with the filtered dye and refrigerate overnight.
An alternative approach is boiling the eggs and dyes together in the same pot. Use a separate saucepan for each color.
Allow the eggs to dry completely in an empty egg carton or on a rack. Use caution when handling the wet eggs because the dye will easily smudge off. Refrigerate the eggs when you are done working with them.
You can also experiment with a variety of embellishments.
• Try drawing on the eggs with a crayon or wax pencil before dyeing to make words or designs.
• To create a textured look, dab wet eggs with a sponge or cloth.
• Cover egg with rubber bands to make a tie-dyed effect.
• Smash raspberries directly onto the egg to create a mottled finish.
• To create a subtle sheen, rub the dry egg with cooking oil.
Although this project is lots of fun, be prepared for some odors. Also, I wouldn’t recommend eating hard-boiled eggs that have been dyed using this method because they may have taken on the flavor of the materials used in the dye (beet-flavored eggs? Yikes).
Plain white hard-boiled eggs; white vinegar; a selection of natural dyes; pots for boiling; bowls to hold dyes; slotted spoons.
Optional: crayons or wax pencils, rubber bands, fresh raspberries, sponge, oil.
Recommended natural dyes
Purple grape juice
Small amount of red onion skins (boiled)
cabbage leaves (boiled)
Spinach leaves (boiled)
Orange or lemon peels (boiled) Carrot tops (boiled)
Celery seed (boiled)
Cumin seed (boiled)
Ground turmeric (boiled)
Chili powder (boiled)
Yellow onion skins (boiled)
Canned cherries with syrup
Cranberries or cranberry juice Raspberries
Juice from pickled beets
Lots of red onion skins (boiled) Pomegranate juice