Dye Easter Eggs the Natural Way

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April 5, 2012

When I set out to find eco Easter egg dye options, I was surprised by the many kitchen items you could use.  It is easy to forego the chemical-laden food colorings and teach your kids the joys and uses of nature used in easy egg coloring recipes.

Dye Recipe Instructions for Eggs:

Select a dyeing agent (outlined below) and place it in the pot. Add 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Allow the ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into a bowl.

Seems simple enough right? You are just heating the dye ingredients to extract the colors and juices used for dye. These are a handful of dye ingredients you can round up for your dying:

For Green Dye:
Dried powdered spinach will make a yellowish green. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar to 2 tablespoons powdered spinach and 1 cup boiling water. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and the dye will turn green. If you allow it to stand for several hours to overnight, it will turn a dark yellow or orange.

For Red or Pink Dye:
Use 4 cups chopped cabbage to get a red dye. Also, dark red beets will make a red or pink shade (depending on how many you use.) You can use them in the wet form, if you smash them and strain the juice through cheese cloth. Red onion skins can also be used with very little water, just boil them and then strain through cheese cloth.

For Yellow Dye:
3 tablespoons turmeric works well for a yellow dye. About 4 cups of onion skins will make a deep yellowish gold color.

For Brown Dye:
Try 1 quart strong black coffee with the cold-dipping method for a nice brown color. Also, 1 tablespoon instant coffee (or loose tea) can be used. Tea and coffee produce different shades of brown, so you may want to experiment with this one. For an even different color (darker) brown try cocoa powder instead of coffee.

For Blue Dye:
Red cabbage juice used with the cold-dipping method can get a blue dye color. Also, blackberry juice or fruit gives a reddish blue result – and blueberry juice or fruit can be used for a blue gray color.

For Purple Dye:
Try 1/2 cup violet blossoms for a nice purple dye. You can also use lavender with 1/8 cup lemon juice. It causes a chemical reaction and makes a pretty lavender color.

Dye Dipping Methods

Dye dipping methods vary depending on the color you want to achieve and the process you wish to take. Cold-dipping produces subtle, translucent shades, but can result in uneven coloring unless the eggs are rotated vigilantly while in the dye. This method is often a better choice for children who are doing the dying and decorating. Boiling your eggs gets a richer, more even color but makes multi-colored eggs difficult and can be dangerous for young kids. The basic instructions for both methods of dipping are as follows:

Cold-Dipping Method:
With this method, the eggs and the ingredients for the dye are boiled separately. Using a metal spoon, lower cooled hard-boiled eggs into a bowl of cooled dye and let them soak, removing when it reaches the depth of color you desire. Pat dry with paper towels, and let dry on a wire rack.

Boiled Method:
This method involves boiling the eggs with the dye; the heat allows the dye to saturate the shells, resulting in intense, more uniform color. Set raw eggs in a pot of strained dye; bring to a boil. Remove and dry eggs as with the cold-dipping method.

Coloring your Easter eggs in natural ways is a great activity for children to partake in. It teaches the usefulness of plants and other ingredients in nature, it spurs creativity and urges resourcefulness too; all while having fun and celebrating the Easter holiday!

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