Dying eggs naturally is a beautiful and rewarding spring activity! My children and I switched to natural dying about 4 years ago away from the nasty chemical garbage that is a traditional “Easter” thing to do. The processes is a little messy but hugely rewarding!
First thing is to gather your materials. These are my favorites that are successful basically every time: red cabbage (for turquoise dye), yellow onion skins (red-orange dye), red beets (fuchsia/ red purple dye), blueberry/blackberry blend…a frozen smoothie blend is cheapest (dark blue/purple), coffee grounds (chocolate brown dye), and turmeric (bright yellow). This year I tested spinach (again) and it was useless (again)…so don’t bother. Finally a quart of white vinegar.
You’ll also need some cheap panty hose. Cut each leg into 3rds…so one pair per 6 eggs. Grocery stores often sell really cheap pantyhose by the box. Next, tiny rubber bands, or waxed faux sinew, or the ability to tie really tight knots in hard things to tie. Then the fun part! get a cheap bouquet of flowers at the grocery store and also go around the yard snipping this and that. Every year Im stunned at how awesome ferns look as well as baby maple leaves. Unfortunately this year, my maple is not yet blooming. Daisy like flowers are a must try!
Before you get started, decide if you want to boil your eggs ahead of time and just let them sit in dye overnight, or boil the eggs with the dye cooking them simultaneously. It depends on your attitude about over-boiled eggs. If you are particular about eating your eggs and dont like the idea of boiling them for 40 minutes…you should cook them ahead.
Place the pantyhose over your hand, then arrange a plant in your palm. Place an egg in your palm, and arrange more things, finally pulling the pantyhose over your hand and over the egg. Twist it VERY tight and tie it, or use waxed sinew. You must keep it VERY tight. Place the eggs in already boiled dye, or, do it at once:
To make the dye place your diced veggies or powders into pots. Use at least 4 cups of water. Lots of it boils off. Boil your ingredients for 30-40 minutes. If dying and boiling the egg at the same time…add 1/2 cup vinegar to the mix. If dying the egg overnight, you can add the vinegar after the boil and prevent singing your nose with the smell of boiling vinegar.
I like pouring the cooled dye into tall drinking glasses. A glass holds about 3 eggs. Play around with mixes. I never use a specific recipe. Red cabbage makes turquoise eggs..and they won’t look turquoise until they are out of the dye and dry, so be patient. The color matures. Make green one of two ways. Yellow turmeric dye plus the red cabbage dye. It looks brown/orange …but it matures to green…I promise. Alternatively, use red cabbage and a little yellow onion. Red beet is a beautiful pink/red purple. I have used blueberries and blackberries separately in the past…but feel they do best boiled together. Individually they make a bit of a grey/slate. But together they make a vivid violet. Each dye soak needs at least 2 tbs of vinegar if you didn’t boil your eggs and dye at the same time.
I find I get the best results year after year by letting the boiled eggs and the dye + vinegar soak in tall glasses overnight. Results always vary and it is really rewarding to just have happy accidents. Play around with mixing the primaries. Turmeric or dilute yellow onion skin for your yellow. Red cabbage for your blue. Beet for your red, or substitute the blue/black berry for your blue, and get some really interesting shades. Pastel shades can be created by only soaking the eggs for a few hours or using a dilute mix. Soft oranges can be achieved by a quick dip in the yellow onion skin dye.
Yellow onion skin dye is incredibly powerful. It is the only one you can use on an hourly basis, in my opinion to really control how dark an egg gets. But you can do a full value scale with it by either time in solution, or by diluting the solution. Red cabbage can be diluted for a variety of shades too, but it really does need to soak overnight.
Peeling off the pantyhose and squishy plants is hugely exciting. Be sure NOT to rub, just rinse! The color can rub off until it is dry.