With springtime’s arrival, we welcome the season of rebirth and renewal by dying Easter eggs. There are so many ways to decorate, dye, and paint eggs online, but I prefer this more rustic approach. I try to avoid using artificial dyes in my home, particularly when food is involved.
Great Learning Moments
I also think dying eggs with natural ingredients provides a valuable lesson to children and adults alike about how our ancestors discovered the earth-toned pigments in everyday foods. Sure, buying an egg dye kit for a few dollars seems like a much easier route. However, naturally dying eggs is really not complicated at all. In fact, naturally dyed Easter eggs can be an easy and educational activity for the whole family. This tutorial is exploratory, experimental, and allows for lots of improvisation. Now those are all great life lessons!
Experimentation and Happy Surprises
After teaching this lesson a few times at the local arts center I work at, I learned that a few of the best natural dyes come from beets, red cabbage, turmeric, and onion skins. These dyes will create a wonderful color palette and you can even practice your color mixing skills by making new colors. If you like, you may experiment with some other produce you have such as blueberries or spinach. If you have been following my blog, you know that I love experimenting and happy surprises!
Just like when cooking and creating art, my ideas often evolved and transformed during this dying process. For example, I ended up with 5 gorgeous bright yellow eggs from using the turmeric. I wanted more variety, so I add these yellow eggs to the red cabbage dye and let them sit for another hour. My new eggs were a vibrant forest green, and this double dying really WOWed my toddler.
You can keep your eggs simple and just dye them one color, or you can try some of the stencil or onion skin direct transfer methods outlined below.
Leaf and Flower Stencil Technique
This is a fantastic way to bring the new spring blooms and greenery indoors to add a botanical to your eggs. Simply press your leaf or flower firmly onto your hardboiled egg and use a piece of pantyhose to secure it into place. Use string to ensure the pantyhose and leaf will stay in place. You can then place the egg into any of the prepared natural dyes. Refrigerate eggs in the dye overnight for maximum color intensity.
Onion Skin Direct Transfer Technique
Raw eggs can be wrapped in onion skins, which leads to a spectacular pattern and texture that is reminiscent of butterfly wings. I like to rummage through the onion bins at the supermarket and get these skins for free! Wrap the eggs in onion skins and then wrap tightly in a piece of pantyhose. String can be used to ensure the onion skins are pressed firmly against the egg. Place the raw onion wrapped eggs in cold water and bring to a boil. Shut off the water and let them sit for 20 minutes. Once cooled, you can remove the pantyhose and onion skins to reveal your happy surprise.
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs Tutorial
- 1 dozen hard boiled eggs
- Natural dye materials (beets, red cabbage, onion skins, and turmeric)
- Mesh strainer
- Wide mouth jars with lids
- Pots or saucepans
- Optional: raw eggs, olive/coconut oil, pantyhose, string, leaves, and flowers
Naturally Dyed Eggs Guide
|Purple Cabbage||1 cup chopped||simmer with 1 cup water||Light Blue -overnight / Lavender quick dip|
|Red Onion Skins||1 cup||simmer with 1 cup of water||Rusty Red|
|Yellow Onion Skins||1 cup||simmer with 1 cup of water||Orange|
|Beets||1 cup chopped||blend with 1/2 cup of water, add 1/2 water and simmer||Pink/Maroon|
|Turmeric||1 Tablespoon||Simmer with 1 cup of water||Yellow|
1. Hard boil your eggs, unless you are choosing to only try the Direct Onion Transfer Method, which requires raw eggs.
2. Gather all supplies
3. Wash and chop your vegetables according to Naturally Dyed Eggs Guide.
4. Add each dye matter to a separate saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. You may add more water as needed and simmer for longer is deeper hues are wanted.
5. Allow dyes to cool slightly and then pour through a mesh strainer and into a jar.
You can strain into a bowl and then transfer to jars if you need to depending on the size of your strainer.
6. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of dye in each jar. You can label your jars if you wish so you can ensure your experiment is accurate.
7. Carefully place 2-3 eggs into each jar of dye, making sure they are completely submerged.
8. Transfer the eggs to the refrigerator and let them soak overnight for the most vibrant colors. I like to carefully shake my jars to avoid light spots on my eggs.
9. The next day, use a spoon to fish your eggs out of the jars and lay them on paper towels.
10. You can leave the eggs au naturel with a nice matte finish, or polish gently with a bit of olive or coconut oil for a nice shine.
11. Store the eggs in the refrigerator until you wish to display, eat, or hide them!
Since one of my mottos is “waste not,” I have gotten creative with my dye matter leftovers. I have added the purple cabbage to soups and have transformed the beets into hummus. Even if you don’t eat the dye leftovers, you can toss them in the compost pile.
Have you ever dyed eggs naturally? What is your favorite vegetable, fruit, herb, or spice to use?