Growing up, we dyed Easter Eggs every year, and it was something I always looked forward to. Over the last few years, I have become very conscious about the chemicals in everything—and common Easter Egg dye is no exception to that.
Without paying close attention to the label, I picked up 2 Disney Easter Egg Decorating Kits:
You may notice at the bottom of the box, it says, “NON-TOXIC PURE FOOD COLORS.” However, upon further inspection, I realized that my definition of that statement differs greatly from Disney’s.
When I flipped the box over and read the ingredients, I saw “Red 3, Blue 1 and Yellow 6,” in the long list of ingredients. I really don’t want my girls ingesting those chemicals if I have any control over it. After all, it seems like it never fails that there is dye that gets inside of the shell with most of the eggs.
That said, I also don’t want my girls to miss out on the joys of dyeing eggs and having Easter Egg Hunts, so I set off to learn how to dye Easter Eggs naturally. And I discovered I could do so with what I have in the fridge and cabinets!
You can dye eggs with just about anything really. The best source I found was on the Vegetable Gardner site. She gives a lot of really neat ideas for experimenting with everything around you. It’s actually a really neat lesson to teach your kids about colors, natural pigments and how easy it is to extract those pigments.
Here’s the simplified recipe for naturally dyed Easter Eggs that we used:
- 6 uncooked eggs
- Dyeing ingredients (see below for ideas)
- White vinegar
- Place clean, uncooked eggs in a pot that’s large enough to accommodate all of your ingredients.
- If you’re using fresh ingredients, add about 2 cups per quart of water. For dried flowers and herbs, use 2 tbsp for every cup of water. For ground spices, use 2 tsp per cup.
- Add water that is just a little warmer than the eggs (not hot or they’ll crack), one cup at a time, to cover all ingredients by ~1 in.
- Add 1 tsp of white vinegar for every cup of water that you added.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around 15 minutes.
- After the eggs are cooked, remove them from the dye bath and sit out to dry before putting them in the refrigerator.
- For a deeper shade, you can allow them to cool down in the dye water for a longer period of time or refrigerate the whole mix overnight.
- Air-dry the eggs so you don’t rub the dye off.
One of my favorite things about this method is that you hard boil the eggs and dye them all at the same time.
Here’s How Our Easter Eggs Turned Out:
What we dyed the eggs with, from left to right:
Purple Cabbage, Beet Roots, Frozen Blueberries
Spinach, Carrots, Grape Juice
I also did the beet tops in a separate pan, but the color didn’t come out very rich. I’m leaving them in the water in the fridge overnight, so hopefully they’ll take on some color.
Here are some other ideas for dye sources and the colors they should produce—this can vary greatly, and you’ll be surprised that some ingredients don’t produce the color you’d expect (carrots, for instance). Only use edible plants or portions of plants (e.g., no rhubarb leaves).
- Onion skins = marbleized oranges and yellows
- Carrot tops = soft gold
- Raspberries = light fuchsia
- Blackberries = plum
- Coffee = milk-chocolate brown
- Black tea = reddish tan
- Cinnamon = subdued mahogany
- Paprika = light orange
- Turmeric = vivid gold
Dyeing our Easter Eggs this way is definitely more expensive that using conventional dyes, but I feel much better allowing my girls to eat eggs that are dyed naturally.