Every spring, I admire the photos and blog posts that circulate the internet showing naturally dyed Easter eggs. And every spring, I grab a box of those fizzy tablets of synthetic dye to color our Easter eggs instead of trying to do it with natural ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I am THANKFUL for those color tablets that you just drop into a cup with vinegar and water. But the idea that beautiful colors can be achieved by using things I already have in my garden or spice cabinet is FASCINATING to me. After all, this is the same technique that has been used for hundreds of years to dye fabric and wool (someday I WILL dye my own wool…) So this year, I decided to forego the boxed dye. With a little experimentation, we figured out how to dye eggs naturally.
Addison was really excited to give this experiment a try. She came out into the garden with me to cut leaves of cabbage and kale, and she tore up onion skins. While we worked, she made guesses about what colors the eggs would be after sitting in the dye bath.
I was personally happy to have found a purpose for the not-quite-ready beet that Doc pulled from the garden yesterday (I nearly erupted into a fit of rage when it happened…again) but this little beet now had an important job to do! Just look at these colors!
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So how DO you dye eggs naturally? Well, I didn’t follow a recipe. But I can walk you through what we did.
- Fill a little non reactive sauce pan with about 2 cups of tap water.
- Add 1/4 cup vinegar.
- Add the material from which you are trying to extract color.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat a bit, cover, and simmer until the water reaches your desired color.
- Pour the colored liquid into a jar (I used pint jars).
- Repeat with the remaining colored materials.
For some materials, the boiling process can take up to 30 minutes (as was the case with the onion skins).
Once you’ve got your colors ready, it’s just a matter of dropping the eggs into the jars. I made enough liquid to be able to fit two eggs per jar. Then the waiting begins. Unlike the synthetic dyes, these natural colors take a long time…like hours. I just sat them on the counter and walked away for the rest of the morning. Check them every so often. Pull the eggs out of the dye once your desires color has been achieved. The longer they sit, the richer the color.
Pretty simple, right? I do want to add that not all of the colors we tried turned out. Here is the list of the materials we tried as well as the color that the eggs were supposed to turn:
- beets (pink)
- onion skins (orange)
- red cabbage (violet blue)
- spinach/kale (yellowish green)
- turmeric – 1 Tbsp. (yellow)
- coffee – I used leftover brewed coffee and just added vinegar (brown)
- frozen blueberries (blue)
Of these, we did NOT have luck with the cabbage or the spinach. I boiled the leaves for about 30 minutes. In the case of the cabbage, the water turned pink, but the egg did not absorb the color. And the spinach didn’t even turn the water green. Not sure what happened there. But the others worked beautifully!
This was such a neat project. I love it that the kids got to predict what colors the eggs would turn. And Addison just thought it was so neat that we could use things right out of the garden to get such pretty colors. I think this will definitely become an Easter tradition.
What about you? Have you dyed eggs naturally? What materials did you use and how did they turn out? If you have pictures, I’d love to see them! Feel free to link up on the Homespun Sprout Facebook Page!Share This Post!