Have you ever dyed eggs naturally? Not the PAAS kits or using food coloring but using food products around your house to dye your eggs? It's so much fun. If you have kids, it's a great way to expose them to something cool that nature does, if you don't have kids, well, do like we do and bring some boiled eggs to work and have people ask you "where did you get that color?"
The process is pretty simple. Here is a chart I've used for a few years with the list of colors and the products that create them. It's one I started with (and can't remember the original source), but then along the way I just added to it or edited it along the way. When you see the word "boiled", it just means that the ingredient MUST be boiled in order to extract the color.
|Lavender||Small Amount of Purple Grape Juice|
Violet Flowers + 2 tsp Lemon Juice
Red Zinger Tea bags (Celestial Seasoning brand)
|Violet Blue||Violet Flowers (no lemon juice)|
Red Onion Skins (boiled)
Large Amount of Purple Grape Juice
Red Cabbage Leaves (boiled)
|Green||Spinach Leaves (boiled)|
Fresh Basil (boiled)
|Greenish Yellow||Yellow Delicious Apple Peels (boiled)|
Fresh Parsley (boiled)
Orange or Lemon Peels (boiled)
Celery Seed (boiled)
Ground Cumin (boiled)
Ground Turmeric (boiled)
Carrot Tops (boiled)
|Golden Brown||Dill Seeds|
|Brown||Strong or Instant Coffee|
Black Walnut Shells (boiled)
|Orange||Yellow Onion Skins (boiled)|
|Pink||Red Grape Juice|
Fresh Cranberries / Cranberry Juice
Juice from jar of Pickled Beets
Lots of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Canned Cherries with Juice
Wash hard boiled eggs in warm water to remove any oily residue that can affect the color dyeing process and let cool.
There is no exact amount of each of the above ingredients to use. I usually put a couple of handfuls of each of the bigger items, the spices I just use a few tablespoons. You can let the water boil for awhile and just see how brightly colored the water is. Put the color stuff you choose in a saucepan and cover with water by about an inch, and add 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar to each batch. FYI, it could end up being about 2 cups or so of each dye item, depending on what you use. You don't need to use all of each one for the color, those are just different ingredients that produce the same color hue.
Bring to a boil the water and the dye product you are going to use, then reduce heat to low and let simmer anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour or longer, until you like the color you see in the water. That's really all it comes down to, just get the water a color/shade you like and try it out.
Pour liquid through a coffee filter or you can use a mesh strainer, and into a bowl or jar that will be deep enough to put your eggs in. I sometimes use a Mason or Kerr canning type jar.
Don't forget the vinegar, this is to help the dye absorb into the eggshell and is important. Some people even add another tablespoon to the 'dye' before they put the eggs in.
Use a slotted spoon (or tongs) to put the eggs into the hot liquid. The eggs will need to sit for quite a bit of time to get a good color. You can take them out anytime you like the shade they have reached, I sometimes even wait for the liquid to cool and then move it into the refrigerator overnight to let them soak that way. If you are going to eat them, be SURE to refrigerate them. You will get a lighter color the less time you let it sit, and a darker color for longer.
Did you know that these very same techniques are used to dye fabrics, yarn and wool? That's one of the craft projects I hope to be able to work on later on down the road when the farm is up and running. I want to make our own home dyed yarn that we can eventually sell. A dear friend of ours does some great crochet work and I am hoping we can talk her into an afghan or throw made from yarn that has been dyed with things from our farm. I think that would be very cool.
This is a great tool for kids to learn a little history as well; remember that the early settlers used similar techniques for all their homemade clothing.
|Naturally dyed eggs, image courtesy of MarthaStewart.com|
Enjoy your Easter holiday,
whatever you end up doing!