I am 27 (almost 28) years old.
I have no children.
I don’t really celebrate Easter.
And yet, I love to dye Easter eggs.
Like a lot of things I talk about on this little blog of mine, I have extremely fond childhood memories of dyeing Easter eggs. We’d pull down every coffee mug in the cupboard, fill them with water, vinegar and the drop one of the brightly colored tablets from a box in and watch the dye fizz and bubble until it was ready for its first egg. The colors came out shockingly bright (which made me very happy) and those kits always came with a million awesome stickers, shrink-wrappers and other fun Easter-themed tchotkes. After I’d plowed through a dozen (or two!) brightly colored eggs, we’d stash the cartons in the fridge to dry and go dig around Dad’s drawers for a white t-shirt he wouldn’t miss too much—we weren’t about to let that dye go down the drain. We’d wrap rubber bands around the t-shirt and make Easter-colored tie-dyed shirts.
Of course, Babyface and I have dyed Easter eggs together every year since we’ve been married. Each Easter, forking over the $2 to buy a box of egg dye. It wasn’t until about a week ago, when I was thinking I should really pick up some egg dye, that it occurred to me WHY AM I USING ARTIFICIAL COLORS ON FOOD?
And that, my friends, was the end of that.
It turns out, you can dye eggs with natural food dyes. Say, what? That’s crazy talk.
There are about a million different herbs, spices and foods that make good egg dyes, but I tried out four here—hibiscus flowers, turmeric, paprika and beets. Basically, it is hard to mess this up! If you have something that you think will make a good dye, try it out. That’s part of the fun.
Regardless of what goes into your dye, the process is pretty much the same :
- Start off with white-shelled, raw eggs, rinse and dry them to remove any coating that might have been applied to the egg.
- In a saucepan, combine 4 cups water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar (to soften the egg-shell so it absorbs dye better), and 2-3 tablespoons of your dyestuffs of choice.
- Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and insert eggs (how many ever you want to dye, I did three at a time).
- Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Egg will be hard-boiled when finished.
- Remove from heat, cover, and let cool for 15 minutes.
- At this point, check your egg color. If you are happy, remove it, rinse gently in lukewarm water and dry in a carton.
- If you want a deeper color, place the eggs, in the dye, in the refrigerator for as long as it takes to achieve your optimal color.
From left to right: beets, hibiscus flowers, turmeric, paprika.
If you want a smooth look, make sure to strain the dye liquid before you add the eggs. If you want a fun marbled look (like the green/gray, hibiscus flower egg above) keep the dyestuffs in the dye while the eggs cook. For larger dyestuffs (like the hibiscus flowers), feel free to smoosh ‘em up a bit before boiling them.
Of course, since you used totally natural and safe dyes, you can chow down on your eggs without any concern for what nasty things might have seeped past the shell. I originally wondered if the flavor of some of the stronger spices (turmeric!) would flavor the egg, but I can’t taste it at all.
I have to say, as much I enjoyed the neon bright colors of the dyes from the box, this was so much more fun! I can’t wait to try it again next year with a whole other set of fun dyestuffs. I want to try to make a blue egg and a hot pink egg using only natural dyes (let me know if you discover a good recipe).
Next up? Turmeric tie-dyed t-shirts!
Okay, maybe not.