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Coloring Easter Eggs: Natural Dyes from the Kitchen

The exact origin of the custom of dying Easter Eggs is unknown, but every year children and many adults look forward to dying hard-boiled egg to tuck into Easter baskets, hide in the yard or use as decorations. While purchased egg-dye kits make colorful eggs, many items from an ordinary kitchen produce beautiful non-toxic dyes.

Sources of Natural Dyes

The refrigerator, freezer and pantry shelves will yield many sources of natural dyes. The following fruits, vegetables and condiments will produce rich colors:

  • Onion skins — yellow
  • Celery leaves — yellow
  • Carrot — orange
  • Strawberries, cherries or red raspberries — pink to red
  • Beets — red
  • Black grapes — purple
  • Red cabbage — blue
  • Blueberries — blue
  • Artichokes — green
  • Spinach — green
  • Red Onion skin — green

Recipe for Homemade Egg Dye

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw dye material
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar

Directions

  1. Crush, chop, or grate the dye material into small pieces..
  2. Place in a small saucepan with the water
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 30 minutes, adding more water if necessary.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool to warm to the touch but not hot.
  6. Strain the liquid into a bowl
  7. Add the vinegar and stir to mix

How to Dye Easter Eggs

Eggs should be allowed to soak in the dye bath from several hours to overnight. The longer the eggs soak, the deeper and more intense the color will be. If left overnight, the eggs and dye should be refrigerated.

It’s easiest to remove eggs from dye with a slotted spoon. A wire cooling rack for backed goods also serves well as a place to dry the eggs.

Once the eggs are dry, a little olive or vegetable oil rubbed into each one gives the natural colors an attractive sheen.

Decorations for Easter Eggs

Dye won’t adhere to wax, so one way to make designs on the egg is to draw on it before dying with a white crayon. After the egg is dyed, the designs will stand out against the colored background.

Another interesting effect can be achieved by wrapping the eggs with several rubber bands of various widths. The rubber bands can be lined up for a striped effect, or wrapped at various angles for a more unusual effect. After the egg has been removed from the dye bath and allowed to dry, the rubber bands are removed to reveal a series of white lines of various widths.

Sponging the wet eggs as soon as they’re removed from the dye bath will create a mottled effect, while sprinking the wet egg with rock salt will achieve a speckled look.

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