Naturally dyed Easter Eggs are not only a less toxic approach, but the natural pigment from plants and spices create the most beautiful array of colors and shades. Dyeing Easter eggs naturally may take longer than traditional methods but experiencing the variety of colors found in the foods we eat daily is worth the extra time.
- Hard-boiled eggs, room temperature (white or brown eggs, preferably not super-fresh)
- 1 cup chopped purple cabbage per cup of water
- 1 cup red onion skins per cup of water
- 1 cup yellow onion skins per cup of water
- 1 cup shredded beets per cup of water
- 2 tablespoons ground turmeric per cup of water
- 1 bag Red Zinger tea per cup of water
- White distilled vinegar (1 tablespoon per cup of strained dye)
- Liquid neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed
- Saucepan with lid
- White dish
- Fine-mesh strainer
- A second saucepan or bowl
- Baking dish or another container
- Paper towels
- Gather your ingredients: You can make separate batches of different colors or one large batch of a single color. Follow the ratios given above for each ingredient to make more or less dye.
- Add water to a saucepan: Pour the amount of water you need for the dye you’re making into a saucepan.
- Start making the dye: Add the dye matter (purple cabbage, onion skins, etc.) and bring the water to a boil.
- Adjust the heat: Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Check the color: The dye is ready when it reaches a hue a few shades darker than you want for your egg. Drip a little dye onto a white dish to check the color. When the dye is as dark as you like, remove the pan from the heat and let the dye cool to room temperature. (I put the pot on my fire escape and it cooled off in about 20 minutes.)
- Strain the dye: Pour the cooled dye through a fine-mesh strainer into another saucepan (or into a bowl then back into the original pan if that’s all you have).
- Add vinegar: Stir the vinegar into the dye — use 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of strained liquid.
- Pour the dye over the eggs: Arrange the room-temperature eggs in a single layer in a baking dish or other container and carefully pour the cooled dye over them. Make sure the eggs are completely submerged.
- Put the eggs in the fridge: Transfer the eggs in the dye to the refrigerator and chill until the desired color is reached.
- Dry and oil the eggs: Carefully dry the eggs, and then massage in a little oil to each one. Polish with a paper towel. Store the eggs in the refrigerator until it is time to eat (or hide) them.
Natural dyes can sometimes produce unexpected results, so don’t be surprised if, for example, your red-cabbage dye yields blue eggs. Use the following guide to help you achieve the colors you desire.
Deep Gold: Boil eggs in turmeric solution for 30 minutes.
Sienna: Boil eggs in onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Dark Rich Brown: Boil eggs in black coffee for 30 minutes.
Pale Yellow: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes.
Orange: Soak eggs in room-temperature onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Light Brown: Soak eggs in room-temperature black coffee, 30 minutes.
Light Pink: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution, 30 minutes.
Light Blue: Soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 minutes.
Royal Blue: Soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution overnight.
Lavender: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution, for 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 seconds.
Chartreuse: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature cabbage solution, 5 seconds.
Salmon: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.