How to color eggs with natural dyes
Many cultures and traditions include the egg as a symbol in their celebrations, usually signifying rebirth and new beginnings. Kids love to dye and decorate eggs each spring, and using plant-based materials ensures safe and healthy egg-dyeing fun.
Hard-boiled or blown-out?
First, decide whether you will hard-boil your eggs for dyeing, or if you’ll use blown-out eggs.
• If you blow out the eggs before dyeing, you can use them to make quiche or scrambled eggs. You can also freeze them in an airtight container pre-cooked and they’ll keep for up to four months. (Here’s a quick video how-to.)
• If you use hard-boiled eggs, make sure they’re never out of the fridge for more than four hours if you intend to eat them later.
Gather your ingredients
In addition to eggs, you’ll need white vinegar, water, and your veggies, fruits, and spices for colors. Don’t leave out the vinegar—it is a necessary fixative, ensuring that the color will adhere to the eggs.
Options for colors
Choose one or two options from each color; you don’t need to use them all.
• grated beets
• chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
• Red Zinger tea
• chopped frozen cherries
• chopped frozen blueberries
• chopped red cabbage
• red onion skins
• yellow/brown onion skins
• chamomile tea
• ground turmeric
• chopped spinach
You can mix these together to create other colors, as well; for example, reds and yellows can combine to produce orange shades. It’s an easy way to teach children about colors.
Photo by Kristen Bonardi Rapp
The correct proportions
Put about 2-3 cups of water in a saucepan for each color. Add one tablespoon of vinegar and the plant(s) of choice. Bring to a boil for fifteen minutes before adding the eggs.
A few tidbits:
• If you want smooth color coverage, strain the mixture first, removing the plants.
• If you want a mottled effect, leave the plant mixture in the saucepan.
• Use crayons or wax pencils to draw decorations or patterns on the eggs before dyeing; the dye will not adhere where there is wax and your designs will be the color of the eggshells.
• When you add the eggs, you can turn off the heat under the saucepan.
• The longer the eggs stay in the pan, the more intense the color will become.
• You can add another splash of vinegar when you add the eggs; this will help the color to intensify and adhere.
Have you ever dyed eggs naturally? What kinds of materials did you use?
Get our weekly email called
5 Quick Things,
where we share new stuff from the blog and podcast—that way you’ll never miss a thing. Tsh also shares other goodness from around the web... It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.
(You’ll also get her quick list of her 10 favorite essays and podcast episodes from around here, helping you wade through a decade of content.)