Yes, I try to eat only organic foods and you might think that’s why I’m posting this blog on naturally dyed Easter Eggs—and that is a nice side benefit to this project—no chemicals. But the truth of the matter is that this idea appeals to me because I love to learn techniques that our ancestors used (before you could purchase neon colored tablets in the store to color eggs). And, of course, I love being able to use items I have on hand vs. purchasing commercially packaged products.
Dyes made from natural materials have always fascinated me.
Every culture has used this process (and some still do). Since Easter is right around the corner, I jumped at the chance to learn more about this topic and share it with you. There is as much variety in instructions as there are people doing the instructing! So here are some general guidelines to get you started. Remember, this process uses natural ingredients—results may vary. You may even discover a new way that works better. That’s the fun part.
How to Dye Eggs the Natural Way
What you will need: stainless steel or enamel saucepans, vinegar, white eggs (brown eggs don’t take the color as well) and dye materials. I like to dry my eggs on a wire cooling rack after dying them. But some people simply put them back in the original egg carton for drying.
Boil white eggs until they are hard-boiled.
Make the individual color dyes in different stainless steel or enamel saucepans.
Here’s where you can get creative. You can strain the dye liquids through cheesecloth or fine strainer OR you can put the eggs directly in the pan and soak them with the ingredients to get a mottled or tie-die effect.
You can also combine the different dyes in coffee cups to get different colors.
The longer you soak the eggs the deeper the color will be.
How to Create the Colors:
These are only suggestions that have worked for others – everyone has a different take on what and how much material to use. It’s a place to start, and then let your own imagination come up with new ideas.
Pink/Red: 2 cups of grated raw beets and 1-tablespoon vinegar, boiled in 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes. (You could also use frozen cranberries, cherries or Red Zinger tea bags).
Yellow/Gold: 3 large handfuls of yellow/brown onionskins shimmered in 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of vinegar for about 15 minutes. You can also make yellow with 2 or 3 tablespoons of ground turmeric (an herb) boiled in 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to liquid.
Blue/Purple: 1 pound of crushed frozen blueberries boiled for about 15 minutes. Or dice ¼ head of red or purple cabbage and add 4 cups of boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar. Grape juice, diluted by half – add vinegar.
Because this could turn into a time-consuming process, I recommend starting with just the three basic colors above and then mixing the other colors from these three.
I’ve included a simple color chart guideline at the bottom of this blog.
But if your imagination gets the better of you, like mine, here are some other ideas to consider or experiment with:
Lavender: Hibiscus tea bags
Green: Parsley and/or Spinach
Brown: 1-quart Coffee (no additional water – just add vinegar)
Rusty Orange: Chili Powder
Deep Purple: Red Wine (Personally I can’t imagine wasting wine this way, but if you’ve uncorked a bottle that is bad – I say go for it!)
Simple Color Mixture Guideline:
Yellow + Red = Orange
Yellow + Blue = Green
Red + Blue = Purple
- Remember that Complimentary Colors such as Orange/Blue, Yellow/Purple and Red/Green when mixed together produce browns or grays (probably not what you wanted!)
How to make Creative Designer-looking Eggs:
If you want to take this a step further and really get the creative juices flowing, you can add leaves and flower petals to create a patterned design. Lay the pieces on the egg and hold them in place with cheesecloth or pantyhose material (tie it with thread or twisty ties) and soak the egg in the dye until you achieve the color you want. Then let dry a bit and gently remove the materials. Voila!
Note: You can create a luster on your colored eggs by rubbing vegetable oil on them and carefully wiping off the excess.