When I started this project, I wasn’t overly optimistic. I’ve seen naturally dyed eggs on the internet before – some were unimpressive, and I figured others had relied on generous photo editing. However, I was happily proved incorrect! Don’t get me wrong, some of my trials were complete duds. Paprika pretty much created a brown egg (those come out of a chicken naturally already!); red cabbage with baking soda was too splotchy for my taste; spinach was just…ugly. And there were several others just not worth the effort.
But some of the results were absolutely striking. It’s amazing how commonly available food can produce such intense color. When I was editing my photos, I actually had to reduce the saturation in some cases because they looked unnaturally electric.
The foods I had the most success with were: beets, onion skins, turmeric, chamomile (I used dried whole flowers but the contents of tea bags will also work), and red cabbage – all easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Here are some tips to make dyeing your eggs naturally both smooth and effective:
- Use tall, skinny jars to maximize the number of eggs. After I used a few mason jars I realized my water glasses were the perfect size.
- Allow plenty of time for the eggs to sit in the dye and then to dry. Most of my eggs soaked 12-18 hours.
- Save time by simmering the dyes for multiple colors at one time. Find any pot/pan that will hold 4+ cups of liquid and get to cooking.
- Use a combination of white and brown eggs for a wider range of color.
- Hard boil your eggs ahead of time. There are a lot of methods out there, but I love my Norpor Egg Timer.
This is a fun activity for everyone. Kids can help peel onion skins, measure ingredients, and get a kick out of checking in on the progress of the dyes at work. Adults and kids alike can take part in the wonderment of watching groceries turn into art! At 12 months, Zane is still too young to appreciate the process, but I was giddy over how beautifully the eggs transformed and look forward to sharing this little kitchen experiment with him in the future.
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs
For all colors (depending on the size of your jar, can dye two, maybe three, hard boiled eggs at a time):
4 c water
1 tbsp vinegar
Pinkish maroon – 1 medium beet, shredded (don’t need to bother with peeling)
Bright orange – dry skins of 3 large yellow onions
Bright yellow – 1 tbsp dried turmeric
Muted yellow – 2 tbsp dried chamomile flowers
Robin’s egg blue – 1/2 small red cabbage, shredded or chopped
1. In a medium pot or deep sauce pan over high heat, add the water and coloring agent. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the water color is vibrant and volume is reduced by half – for all colors I simmered about 20-30 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and strain mixture into a glass jar, and stir in the vinegar. Add the hard boiled eggs. Once the liquid cools to almost room temperature, cover, and move the jar to the fridge.
3. Let the eggs sit in the dye until the desire color is reached – all of my eggs were in the fridge 12-18 hours – carefully stirring a few times throughout that time to get dye on the spots touching the glass/other egg(s).
4. Place the eggs on a cooling rack (with something like an old dish towel underneath to catch the colorful drippings) until dry. You can speed this process by patting them a bit with a cloth or paper towel, but don’t apply too much pressure or you will remove some of the dye. Store in the fridge.
Will you be dyeing eggs this year? What’s your favorite method?