I LOVE dyeing Easter eggs. It is one of those things that I look forward to all year long and I prepare by purchasing ridiculous quantities of eggs (a minimum of at least 36!) and oodles of different kinds of dye kits. I will try anything; marbleized or crackle sets, standard fizzy tab dunkers, makeshift messages written in wax, rubber band wrappings, painter’s tape block designs… You name, we’ve I’ve tried it. My husband apathetically anticipates the annual dyeing sessions and purposely sets aside a line item in our monthly budget marked “Easter Eggs”. And, if I do say so myself: I do a darn good job!
There is nothing half-assed about my projects and this year was no exception.
Sometimes I feel like a such a loony ditz. I had already planned ahead by purchasing three dozen organic, free-range eggs for dying. But, was flummoxed after I brought them home and realized that they were brown. You can’t really dye brown eggs, now can you!? And, then imagine my genuine surprise when I turned over the package of a standard Easter egg dying kit and noticed the laundry list of chemicals that are used to dye. I will give you a minute to laugh… Maybe you are wondering what I thought the dyes were made of? Or, how they made those ridiculously bright, unnatural colors? And, um, gee, well, so… I don’t know.
No white eggs, only brown… and, no dyeing kits.
So, we set out to dye our Easter eggs naturally using food and plant ingredients. And, I did get my hands on another two-dozen organic, cage-free eggs – white this time (I checked!). I scoured the internet and found recipes for dyeing the eggs naturally and put together my grocery list: red cabbage, cans of blueberries, turmeric, raspberries and vinegar. Five dozen eggs later, a $6.00 head of red cabbage, $13 in canned blueberries (don’t even get my mom started…she’s the one who bought these precious berries in a can) and we were set to go.
Here’s how we did it:
Step 1: Assemble all your ingredients and dishes ahead of time. You must have everything cut up, ready and waiting. Otherwise you will be shooshing a toddler out of the way, tripping on a tricycle, frantically watching over FOUR pots of boiling water and sqwacking as you rummage around the kitchen drawers desperately searching for a tablespoon…
Step 2: Get one quart (yes, that is 4 cups – my husband argues with me every time on this one!) of water boiling on the stovetop. Try to use stainless steel pots or at least find ones that don’t have a non-stick or enamel coating. Once it is a rolling boil, add three tablespoons of white vinegar and all the ingredients for that color. Let the mixture cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat.
Step 3: After cooking, remove the pots from the heat and take all the ingredients out of the water that you can. I was not going to finely strain out bits of turmeric, but I did remove the large chunks of cabbage. Let the drained/strained/cleaned up liquid rest till it reaches room temperature. If you want it to cool a little quicker – you can poor it into other containers (see our stainless steel bowls that we used).
Step 4: After it is cooled, place the eggs in the dye and store the entire bowl (dye and eggs) in the fridge overnight….
The final product:
The blue is an incredible brilliant sapphire, the yellow are orbs of sunshine and the green is a deep earthy moss. I can’t even find words to describe the pink/purple eggs – they are depressingly boring.
Here are the concoctions that we used. These quantities are for each quart of water. Don’t worry – they aren’t exact. And, the green coloring will be a sludgey, brown but produces the beautiful green we got.
BLUE: ¾ of a head of red cabbage (chopped)
GREEN: 2 cans of canned blueberries and 2 tablespoons of ground turmeric
YELLOW: 4 tablespoons of ground turmeric
PINK/PURPLE/BLAH: 2 cups of frozen raspberries
I miss my pink eggs, so I have made notes of what I want to try for next year. If you have any ideas let me know.
- Idea 1: 3 cans of beets in cranberry juice supposedly makes a dark reddish color
- Idea 2: 3 tables of chili powder – we should have used this, we had the chili powder in the cupboard! Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.
- Idea 3: lots of red onion skins
Dyeing Easter eggs naturally was a great project and was an lesson in experimental kitchen chemistry. I recommend it to anyone. It was time consuming and made a mess of the kitchen (the sink still has a slight yellow tinge on the bottom and my hands look like I have jaundice) but, it was relatively affordable (just make sure that you check the color of your eggs, first!) and a fun adventure. Here’s to the onslaught of egg salad sandwiches!