Hands up: who loved dying easter eggs as a kid? Remember the crazy colours your fingers would turn? Or how egg salad was a menu item for what seemed like weeks and weeks afterwards. None of that mattered. For a day or two you would have a collection of Dr. Seuss-coloured Easter eggs that you dyed yourself and then magically the Easter bunny came and hid for you, along with a few cavity-inducing treats.
Last year, I was obsessed with trying to go au naturel. I had been on a tummeric smoothie kick and decided to try to combine my love of bright yellow with the power of my new wonder-herb obsession. I figured if my turmeric smoothie could stain my white shirts, maybe it could festoon egg shells. I also knew that purple cabbage was also a great natural Easter egg dye candidate. So what did I do? Enlist the help of my super crafty step mama and my other pal Pinterest.
While at my parent’s ranch for a brief visit, my stepmom and I filled every small pot she had with boiling water and various chopped, peeled, ground or grated brightly-coloured, vegetable matter. The result after an impatient three to four hours of egg dunking/soaking? Light coloured, earthy toned Easter eggs.
We tried to imprint the eggs with leaf patters by tying leaves to the eggs with string and wrapping in a layer of cheesecloth. It was kind of a fail, depending on which natural dye we used and the knot tiers tight-knot dying skills. But probably the most fun was the photo shoot and walking around the ranch collecting natural bits for our Easter lunch table decor (and photo shoot). To this day my kid still calls picking lichen, ‘searching for treasure.’ And yes, we have done this more than once (#hippieparenting).
This year we narrowed down our natural dye adventures due to my significantly smaller pot collection and also left the eggs in their potions for 24 hours. HUGE difference in hue. I’ve included a few tips on the best common kitchen ingredients to use for dying eggs in my humble attempts two years running…
First: boil your eggs. Cool them down. Then decorate however you like – crayons, string, rubber, band, scotch tape. All these will stop the dye from soaking through in some form or other.
Red Cabbage – julienne combine with water about 4 parts to 1 (4 cups water to 1 cup chopped cabbage). Shake a bit of salt in, bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool. Strain cabbage out. Add 1-2 tbsp of white vinegar. Colour eggs with crayon or wrap eggs in rubber bands for stripy patterns. Place eggs in room temperature dye bath for 12-24 hours.
Onion skin + turmeric – place yellow, dry outer layer of the onion skin of about 2 onions with 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder to about 2 cups of boiled water. Stir. Remove from heat. Let cool. Repeat as above. The longer eggs stay in the deeper the yellow.
Spinach + parsley – this was a fail. The recipes I saw called for 2 bunches of spinach or parsley. Instead I used a half bunch each because that is what I had. Follow directions as above (boil, cool, strain, vinegar, etc). CHEAT NOTE: I dropped about 5 drops of food colouring in this one as my water was light green due to me being cheap on the veggies.
Beets – for reddy, ruddy brown Easter eggs, peel a large beet chop into 1” cubes. Boil with lid on until the beet cubes are soft. Repeat as above, except don’t throw away strained beets. Keep them ad add to your salad that night or the next day. DELICIOUS!
Last year we used: coffee grinds, mashed blueberries, cayenne and red onion skin. Again, if we left them for longer, I would’ve loved to see how they turned out.
Want more? Here are some recipes by the folks at:
Rachel at A Beautiful Mess
Erin at Reading my Tea Leaves
Elizabeth at Alloy