Natural Egg Dyes

I’ve been intrigued by the idea making your own egg dyes from foods. Artificial dye isn’t a great thing for anyone to be eating, and although we don’t eat the egg shells, in years past some dye has soaked through the shells onto the hardboiled eggs. So this year I decided to try making my own dye.

First I hardboiled 9 white duck* eggs (I have a chicken egg allergy) and placed the boiled eggs into glass jars. Then I made these dyes:

  • yellow: orange peel boiled in 1.5 cups water, with 1.5 tsp. white vinegar added when dye is poured over eggs
  • pink: the juice from a can of pickled beets
  • purple (blue?): several large purple cabbage leaves boiled in 1.5 cups water, with 1.5 tsp. white vinegar added when dye is poured over eggs
  • orange: dried outer skins from several yellow onions boiled in 1.5 cups water, with 1.5 tsp. white vinegar added when dye is poured over eggs
  • brown: leftover strong coffee, with the grounds thrown in with the egg as well (I put some vinegar in with this for good measure, although some people don’t as the coffee should already be acidic enough to set the color)

We had several blue and green chicken eggs, as well as brown, which came ready-dyed from the hens. 🙂 So I decided not to attempt more blue and green colors. If you are wanting to add these colors then the following could be used:

  • blue: 1 cup frozen blueberries boiled in water, with 1 tsp. vinegar added for each cup water
  • green: spinach boiled in water, with 1 tsp. vinegar added for each cup water

You can see in my picture the array of colors in the jars. They are so jewel-like; the picture doesn’t do it justice. For several colors I did not have enough dye water to cover the eggs completely, so I stuffed some of the oranges, beets, and cabbage down around the eggs to raise the water level. Boiled orange peel smells heavenly . . . can’t say the same for the cabbage! 🙂

The eggs should be left in until you are happy with the amount of color, and then removed from the dye and dried with paper towels. It looks to me like the beet colored ones may be done tonight (after only 1-2 hours), but the rest will be going in the fridge in their dye overnight.

I will post a picture of the final product tomorrow!

My children thought the whole process was amazing, especially which kind of food we were using for each color. Of course, the event wasn’t the same as the dipping procedure we’ve done in the past . . . it’s more watch and wait, and less hands-on for the kids. (But it’s also less mess for mom to clean up!) They will get to help me pull the eggs out in the morning and dry them. If we had started earlier in the evening, we would have had time to use a white crayon to make designs on the eggs before their dye bath; maybe next year!

Update: Next Morning

Here is a picture of our eggs the next morning. (Left to right dyes: natural chicken blue eggs, orange peel, yellow onion skin, cabbage, beet juice, coffee -back, natural chicken brown -front.)

I was surprised that it wasn’t the beet juice that gave the strongest color, but the cabbage and onion dyes. I actually took the eggs out of the onion dye last night, leaving all the rest in overnight.

The yellow (orange peel) was a disapointment, with only a tinge of yellow staying on the eggs. Perhaps a naval orange isn’t the right kind of peel, but I think I’ll try paprika boiled in water next year.

We noticed that it was easy to make smudges on the eggs when blotting the eggs dry, so be careful, or rub with an intentional pattern in mind.

All in all, it was a colorful success!

 

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