A tutorial for naturally-dyed Easter eggs

It's that time of year again! There are bunnies, lambs, chicks, and pastel colors everywhere. The grocery store aisles are lined with chocolate that you remember from your childhood but know better now than to eat (or do you?). And of course, it's time to dye eggs for Easter.


I cracked one of the eggs, but it still dyed up just fine!

Sure, you can buy a kit full of dyes that are largely synthetic and in general, not great for environmental reasons (not to mention you can't eat those eggs afterwards), or you can try your hand at some using common kitchen spices and vegetables. And even though it's a little more time consuming, as all eco-friendly things seem to be, it's well worth it for the gorgeous colors you can come up with. Are you ready?

Here's what you'll need:


* Hard-boiled eggs (brown, white, who cares - all colors will work!)

* Mason jars or bowls to contain each color

* A food processor or grater

* White vinegar

* Various pots & pans

* Fine mesh sieve

* Veggies or spices (I'll show you a few examples below)


Step 1: Prepare your dyes


This step may look different depending on what you end up choosing for dyes. I chose red cabbage, beets, turmeric, and paprika. Of course you can use onion skins (for more yellows) or even avocado pits (for some pinks, but it does depend on your water) as well. For the most part, if it'll stain your hands, it may be great for Easter eggs. (A quick note: please observe I said for Easter eggs and not yarn - while a lot of things will give yarn color, not everything is wash-fast or light-fast and many will fade quickly. This doesn't matter so much with eggs that you'll eat or discard soon.)



For any veggie you choose, I recommend peeling and chopping, or shredding in the food processor, to help extract color (this is not necessary for avocado pits). I did this with both my red cabbage and beets. I typically find about maybe a cup or two will do the trick, though the rule of thumb is more dyestuff = richer color. For spices, you only need roughly one to two teaspoons of the powder. Then you can place that dyestuff in a pot and cover it with a few cups of water, and turn it to boil. Once it reaches boiling, you can reduce the heat to a simmer and let it continue for between 20 minutes to an hour.


Step 2: Strain out your dye water



Once you've finished heating your dyestuff, you can place a fine mesh sieve over the mouth of a mason jar (or a liquid measuring cup before pouring into the mason jar, like I did), and strain out the liquid. Ideally, you'd like to fill the jar about 2/3 of the way full to leave room for the eggs. I also recommend letting the dyes cool to room temperature before adding the eggs.


Step 3: Add a mordant



In yarn dyeing, I typically use a metal to adhere colors. For eggs, white vinegar will work just fine. Just pour a teaspoon of white vinegar into each dye jar, and that's it.


Step 4: Add the eggs


Slowly lower your eggs into each jar with a spoon. I left mine out on my counter for the day, but you can also leave them overnight. Some individuals refrigerate theirs, but I think either way works fine. I used little quart mason jars, and was only able to fit 2 eggs at a time, but you can always continue to use the jar after each batch (and just add a little more vinegar each time).



After they've set, gently lift the eggs out with a spoon and set out to dry. I just placed mine straight in a bowl. A friend of mine says her Croatian family has always rubbed a piece of bacon over the egg to give them shine after they dried. I haven't tried this, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't!


Here are the results of my experiments. The brown eggs are on the left-hand side, white on the right.


Turmeric

Red Cabbage (I was told that brown eggs would turn green and I guess it kind of did, but it's a little more "slate grey" if you ask me)

Paprika kinda made them look like regular chicken eggs

Beets

Let me know if you have any further questions, or how your own experimenting goes!


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