Using natural dyes made from fruits, vegetables and spices already on hand isn’t just an easy way to avoid the chemicals found in those commercial dye kits, experimenting with the natural colors found in everyday foodstuffs can produce spectacular (and sometimes surprising) results.
We tried our hand at eight different natural egg dyes: coffee, wine, pomegranate juice, turmeric, paprika, spinach, beets and red cabbage. Our criteria was based primarily on what was already in the house, but the results were mostly winners. Best in show was the vibrant blue we got from red cabbage and turmeric produced a bright yellow to rival any artificial coloring. Spinach took a long time to yield anything but a faint greenish hue and some dyes came out a little splotchy (which was actually not without its charm). Soaking our eggs in multiple brines produced interesting colors and patterns we weren’t expecting, but the overall results were terrific and gave us a basket full of eggs that looked great.
Here's what we used for our eggs.
Greens: spinach, kale
Yellows: turmeric, lemon peels
Blues: red cabbage, blueberries
Reds and pinks: beets, wine, pomegranate juice
Browns: coffee, tea
Oranges: paprika, carrots
Follow the steps below to make your own natural dyes for coloring your own Easter eggs.
Hard cook your eggs by boiling them for 8 minutes or baking in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes (handy for large batches). As soon as they are cooked, rinse with cool water and dry. If you’re wondering, brown eggs will hold dye as well was white and, in some cases, will produce even richer colors.
Fruits and vegetables like onion skins, blueberries and red cabbage can be chopped, boiled in water for 15 to 20 minutes and strained to produce effective egg dyes. Onion skins will yield yellow eggs, blueberries a blue-grey and red cabbage a surprisingly vibrant blue. Use about a cup of chopped ingredients per two cups of water.
Place and egg in each dye and wait. The longer the egg soaks in the dye, the deeper the color. We soaked ours anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to get a range of shades, but they may even be left overnight in the refrigerator. Some will dye evenly, while others may produce a less even coat. Try soaking them in multiple dyes to create unusual colors and patterns.