Spring on the farm is a very exciting time. It is a time of renewal and rebirth that can be seen everywhere. Rhubarb, lettuce and kale are starting to grow in the garden, baby chicks, goats and lambs are being born. Egg production is increasing after a long winter, just in time to celebrate Easter with the tradition of decorating and coloring chicken or duck eggs. Most of us grew up using the store bought egg coloring kits that include artificial dyes, stickers and shrink wraps, all packaged up and ready to use. But, did you know that you can naturally dye eggs from materials found right out of your garden, pantry and kitchen? Not only can you color eggs using fruit, vegetables and spices, you can decorate and design eggs using grains, leaves and twigs. It takes a little more effort and creativity, but the results are outstanding.
Let’s Get Started
Start with the freshest-laid eggs from organic or free-range chickens. If you do not have happy hens of your own, look for a farmer selling them at a local farmers market, co-op or farm stand. Brown eggs can dye just as well as white eggs and, in fact, will produce a richer color. First, boil your eggs in water, taking them out before they crack.
While your eggs are boiling, peel several onions (red or yellow), chop some cabbage, dice a beet, grab some spinach and get out some frozen blueberries. We found some mason jars that we filled up about 1/3 to 1/2 way full. Nice right?
You can add two tablespoons of any spice and get fantastic colors. We used tumeric for the color yellow.
We used chili powder for orange.
And brewed up some extra strong espresso coffee for our dark brown color.
You will end up with eight jars total. Pour boiling hot water over the ingredients. Fill all of the jars up about half way, making sure to cover ingredients.
Add two tablespoons of vinegar in each jar. The colors will not set without vinegar.
After the jars have cooled, strain the ingredients and put your new dye in a fresh container.
Add your eggs, one at a time, until you have around three to four in each jar.
After adding your eggs, place all jars in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. The longer you leave them, the more intense the color will be.
When you take the eggs out, place them on a drying rack to dry. Rub them with vegetable, coconut or olive oil to polish them up, before you showcase them as a work of art on your countertop, hide them for a Easter egg hunt or place in beautiful baskets (we found ours at a second hand store). Aren’t you proud of yourself?
How To Make Natural Food Dyes
Using fresh foods results in the most vibrant of colors. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables will work, but not as well. Coffee, juice and spices create darker hues. The following will give you a great start to deciding what colors you want to create.
- Blue: red cabbage, purple grape juice, red wine
- Lavender: blueberries
- Green: spinach, parsley
- Yellow: tumeric, orange peels, lemon peels, birch leaves
- Orange: yellow onion skins, paprika, chili powder
- Pink/red: beets, red onion skins, rasberries, cranberries, red pepper
- Brown: very strong coffee, black tea, walnut shells
- Note: you can mix any of these primary colors to create secondary colors such as; red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green and blue and red make violet.
- Mason jars or small bowls
- Measuring spoons
- White vinegar
- Mesh strainer
- Large pot
- Large metal spoon
- Olive, coconut or vegetable oil
- Drying rack
- Use a beeswax crayon to draw designs before the egg is dyed
- Brush on melted beeswax with a thin brush
- Wrap the egg with rubber bands or bakers twine if you want stripes
- Gather any kind of leaf, twig, or even flower petals and firmly place against the egg. Wrap the egg in hosiery and tie tightly. This will make sure your design doesn’t shift. Place in any dye.
- Tie dyed Easter eggs
- Use silk ties to dye your eggs