Eggs dyed with chlorophyll, turmeric, and blueberries. (Basket filled with shredded paper packing material.)
Is dyeing eggs part of your Easter tradition? Then why not give a try to natural dyes this year? They’re fun and easy and you’ll feel a lot better when your kids get them on their hands and faces and possibly in their mouths. Plus, as long as you minimize the time the eggs are kept outside the fridge, there’s no reason not to eat them when you are all done! Making these dyes involves boiling and cooling, so prepare them ahead of time. Note that you’ll never get those intense hues that come from artificial dyes, but the pastels from these methods are lovely. Soak longer—around 15 minutes—for deeper colors. Also, not straining the dyes can give you a cool texture, especially with the turmeric.
- Yellow: Boil 2 tsp. turmeric in 1 cup water. Simmer 5 min., cool, strain.
- Orange-brown: Boil a bunch of onion skins in 1 cup water. Simmer 10 min., cool, strain, add 1 tsp. white vinegar.
- Green: Boil 1 cup water, remove from heat. Add contents of 3 chlorophyll capsules (buy at health food stores), stir, cool, strain.
- Blue: Boil 1 cup frozen blueberries with 1 cup water. Simmer 5 min., cool, strain, add 1 tsp. white vinegar.
- Pink: This is the basic recipe for pink, but I have never gotten it to work. (My dye looks right, but the egg comes out brown. I’m trying fresh beets next time.) If you want to try: Boil 1 cup water with a jar of beets. Simmer 5 min., cool, strain, and add 1 tsp. white vinegar.
I recommend using hardboiled white eggs (anyone know where to buy organic white eggs?). Double-soaking (e.g. in green then blue) can create some nice shades. Again, be sure to keep eggs in the fridge when not dying them if you plan to eat them. And be sure to cover sensitive surfaces with newspaper or rags—these dyes can be just as staining as artificial ones! Some additional options and methods:
What to do with the leftovers? Some ideas:
- Blueberry: mix berries into oatmeal, muffin batter, or smoothies. Use dye as basis for a simple syrup and mix with seltzer for a treaty natural soda (with addition of sweetener, you won’t notice vinegar).
- Chlorophyll: use dye to water plants
- Turmeric: add some dye to rice cooking water for a nice complement to an Indian-inspired meal.
Spring 2013 Addendum:
Check out this post from Organic Deals for advice on dying with spinach and coffee and a list of some natural commercial egg dying kits.