Every year at Easter the children and I enjoy dyeing Easter eggs with natural dyes. We started doing this years ago, when my oldest was enrolled in a Waldorf enrichment program. When they told us to use natural materials to dye the eggs I thought it was kind of silly, after all food coloring is cheap and easy! But once I did it once I was hooked, since it is fun to see the amazing variety of colors that can come from nature.
This year I didn’t plan ahead, so we were limited to using what we already had in the house, which affected our results somewhat. Here is what we used.
Red Cabbage – Although we have made natural dyed Easter eggs many times before I have not used red cabbage before. We have used red cabbage for Acid/Base science experiments, but never for egg dying. So we chopped up lot of red cabbage and added it to the pot with the eggs we were boiling. After 15 minutes the eggs were hard boiled, and the water was purple, but the eggs were still white. So we cooled the eggs and the cabbage juice and soaked the eggs in the juice in the refrigerator for a few hours. The results was gorgeous blue eggs. Some of them were more teal green when they dried, and they all look very nice. These were spectacular and my favorite of all the eggs!
Carrot Tops – I read online that carrot tops would make yellow eggs, so we decided to try those. Again, we chopped the tops up and put them in the pot with the eggs we were cooking. By the time the eggs were done they had turned a very pale yellow. Again, we decided they weren’t yellow enough, so we put them in the cooled liquid to soak in the refrigerator. After a few hours the color was better, but it is still a pretty pale yellow. Yellow one of the easiest colors to get, and we have got a brighter yellow with turmeric in the past.
Grape Juice – We wanted purple eggs, so we decided to try grape juice. We soaked hard boiled eggs in grape juice for a few hours and got purple eggs , but the color is very uneven. I only had sparkling grape juice, and my guess is the carbonation messed up the color transfer. This is one of those cases where a little planning on my part would have probably given us better results, and next time we will try with regular grape juice!
Onion Skins – We wanted an orange or red to round our our color palette. The only thing we had in the house that would make red was pomegranate juice, and my kids love pomegranate juice and wouldn’t let me “waste” it on eggs. So we fell back on onion skins, which are easy and yield a beautiful, bright orange color. For onion skins we didn’t need to soak the eggs in the liquid, 15 minutes of boiling in water with onion skins was plenty to color the eggs. My saucepan is now also stained orange, but I suppose the color will wear off eventually.
We have enough hard boiled eggs now, so attempts to get red and a good green will have to wait until next year. So if you are planning to color eggs this year give natural dyes a try!