Sunday, April 5, 2015

Natural Dye Easter Eggs

The Saturday before Easter I brought out the egg dye kit that I had bought at the supermarket weeks ago. But this year I just couldn't bring myself to break open the brilliant, jelly-bean colored dyes. Those little tablets are tradition, what I did every year with my family as a child, but when I spend so much effort trying to fill my household with natural materials, they just don't make sense.

Instead, I searched my kitchen for color-rich food items. Normally I would have run out to the store for just the right items, but I'm still in my 2 weeks postpartum where I refuse to leave the house. 

So, after a quick consult to the web, what I decided to try was the following:

Orange: Yellow onion skins 
Yellow: Tumeric
Red: Pomegranate juice and paprika (separately)
Blue: Blueberry juice
Green: Parsley and green tea (separately)

Everything except the juices I put in a saucepan and boiled for 10-15 minutes (This took a couple rounds since I only have 4 burners!)

 I then arranged them all in glass bowls, adding 1 tsp of vinegar for each cup of liquid (roughly!).

Add hard boiled eggs and crayons, and we were dying eggs before naptime. 

Note: I washed the hard boiled eggs in a little soap and water-- this was suggested by one website.

Little Bug (3 yrs old) LOVED it. It took her 10 seconds to scribble a design on an egg with crayons, and then she carefully lowered it into the colorful liquid of her choice. Then she was onto the next egg!

We left them in the dyes for anywhere from a couple minutes (blueberry juice was very fast, and tumeric was pretty quick to give a pale yellow) to over an hour (those were the ones we just left in the dyes and went off and did other things). 

The biggest FAILS were:

--The parsley. Didn't really impart nearly enough color. Might try spinach next year, or liquid chlorophyll if I can find it.
--Pomegranate juice. This was a web suggestion... did they try this before they typed it into their blog post? Even after 10 minutes, it didn't even get to a pale pink.

The successful dyes were:

Tumeric! Of course this worked, tumeric will even dye your pots yellow (temporarily!). A couple minutes left a pale yellow, and longer gives a beautiful golden yellow.

Yellow onion skins. This is just such a satisfying orangey-brown color! The palest one is probably 5 minutes or so, and the darker ones were over an hour.

Green tea. Not exactly what I was going for, but it is a nice rustic greeney-olivey color.

Hungarian paprika. Another surprise. It acted almost like there was oil in the spice... maybe there was? Sort of a marble effect, rather lovely.

Blueberry juice. Not what I expected either, but sort of nice and rustic. They are a bit more blue than they appear in this picture.

All together, the look lovely! I'm totally sold on natural dyes... so beautiful.

Not to mention the fact that I'll feel a lot better about eating the hard boiled eggs (or letting Bug eat them).

Things to try next year:


Blue: Red or Purple Cabbage. A little after-the-fact web searching turned up this some truly lovely blue eggs that were done with cabbage.

Red: Beets. Obviously. But we didn't have any beets in the house!

Green: Spinach or liquid chlorophyll. No visual evidence that this works, but worth a try. Red cabbage on brown eggs might give a green too.

Purple: Red zinger tea or red wine.


Wrapping leaves around eggs with 5 inch squares of nylon stockings. Lovely!

Rubber bands. Simple, kid friendly.