The tradition of dyeing Easter eggs goes way back, most likely even before Easter itself, to pagan times when spring celebrations included decorating eggs as a symbol of rebirth. For me personally, the ritual goes back to the sixties, a kitchen table covered with newspaper, an arrangement of bowls, and the pastel-colored box kit with the little copper wire egg dipper inside (only one per box, my brothers and I had to take turns with it.)
We still love coloring eggs at our house, but these days we skip the artificial dyes and use the natural dyes that are probably already in your kitchen, or easily found if not. The rich, rustic colors you can get from common vegetables, spices and teas are delightful!
HOMEMADE NATURAL EASTER EGG DYE
Here are some suggestions for dyeing your Easter eggs naturally*:
- Purple Cabbage: Blue
- Beets: Purple/Pink
- Yellow Onion Skins: Yellow/Orange
- Red Onion Skins: Red/Lavender
- Spinach or Yarrow: Green
- Turmeric: Yellow/Orange
- Hibiscus Tea: Lavender
- Coffee: Brown
- Elderberries: Purple/Red
This is only a partial list of possibilities. If something has a rich color or tends to make a stain, it will probably make a good egg dye.
*Colors are variable. You’ll get different hues depending on the shade of the egg, the concentration of the dye and the amount of time you leave it in. It’s fun to experiment!
THE PROCESS, SIMPLIFIED:
- Boil your eggs and set aside to cool.
- Add 1 cup of the vegetable matter or 2 tablespoons of the tea or spice to one cup of water in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
- Cool the dye and pour into a bowl or a pint mason jar.
- Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the dye.
- Place one or two eggs into the dye, arranged so that the whole egg is covered
- Leave the eggs to soak, anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours, checking frequently for color. When you like what you see, remove the egg and place on a cooling rack to dry completely. You can get several shades out of a single dye according to how long they soak
- As a final touch, you can polish them using a rag dipped in a little bit of olive oil, which will result in an enhancement of the natural color and a lovely sheen!