Guest Post: Natural Easter Egg Dyes

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Today I’ve asked a fellow “real food” blogger to share her natural Easter egg dye method with us…so please “meet” Christina with Spoonfed (a Jamie Oliver blog of the month)!

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My name is Christina Le Beau, and I write a blog called Spoonfed, which is about raising food-literate children. My goal with Spoonfed (and its companion Facebook page) is to raise awareness of our food system, make kids part of the conversation and, importantly, encourage people to rethink their assumptions about kids and food. One topic I’ve covered frequently is the importance of eliminating petrochemical dyes from our food supply. As Lisa noted in her own recent post on the subject, artificial colors are all risk, no benefit. And who needs that in their Easter basket?

So here’s what we do come Easter time, egg dyeing at its simplest (with recipes inspired by my friend Kris Bordessa of Attainable Sustainable):

1. Hard-boil a bunch of eggs. Doesn’t matter if they’re white or pastel or brown. Each one lends itself to great color variations. (But choose local, pastured eggs if you can. Check out Local Harvest for why that’s important and where you can find good eggs near you.)

2. On your stove, set out four pots* with two cups of water each.

3. To one pot, add a hefty teaspoon of turmeric powder (that’s your yellow). To another, add a couple handfuls of chopped red beets, either fresh or jarred (that’s pink). To a third, add two cups of frozen blueberries or blackberries (your blue). Bring the pots to boiling, then let them simmer five minutes.

4. For the fourth pot, boil the water separately, then turn off the heat and add the contents of six chlorophyll capsules, which can be found in natural-foods stores (that’s your green).

5. After everything has cooled, strain out the chunky bits, then add a teaspoon of vinegar to each the beets (pink) and berries (blue).

6. Dunk eggs. Maybe mark them with crayons for fun designs. Keep dunking and cross-dunking and letting them soak a bit until you get colors you like. Be happy.

*If you don’t have four pots, use a teapot to boil the water for the chlorophyll capsules. That one doesn’t need to simmer, so you can easily pour out two cups of water and mix the green in a separate bowl.

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55 comments to Guest Post: Natural Easter Egg Dyes

  • Rebecca

    I did red onions which ended up very brown, and red cabbage which ended a pale blue, this was after I soaked them all night, My paprika, cumin & spinach did not pick up any colour at all. :( Maybe it was just me & the way I did it. The blue was beautiful & I was looking forward to the yellow but better luck next year, I could have put in too much water and maybe diluted it too much?

  • Rebecca, it sounds like you tried a different method and different ingredients from what I detailed here. I know that spinach doesn’t work at all, so it’s possible some of your other ingredients weren’t effective, either. Or it could have been the dilution or any other number of things. Try the methods here next time! ;-)

  • Pamela Stevens

    I read this post this year and the comments and ended up dying 15 dozen eggs for the neighborhood kids. It was fun. The yellow onion skins and cabbage I boiled for a bit. I did not warm up the water I added turmeric (yellow), paprika (light pink), beets and blueberries. I mixed a bit of the blueberry mixture and turmeric for a nice green. I did not strain any of the vegetable/fruit matter since I liked the texture they would leave on the eggs. The onion skins actually produced an orange color, not just a yellow. I didn’t dip the eggs but but the color in large bowls and let like a dozen eggs at a time sit for quite a while. It really was fun and I would do it again. My boyfriend had doubts and couldn’t figure out why I didn’t just by food coloring, LOL. Thanks for all the advice.

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/532030_10150642385641498_694506497_9830399_1386124796_n.jpg

  • [...] curries and bean and rice dishes. But besides dinnertime, it can also be used as a natural dye for Easter eggs or baked goods. Pair it with black pepper to pump up curcumin’s antioxidant benefits[12]. If the [...]

  • Deborah Eubanks

    Have we forgotten that green is a secondary color and not a primary color? It doesn’t need it’s own pot, you can make green with yellow and blue.

    (Just like the reality show, The Great Escape. Two teams are stuck with primary colors that stick out for their tshirts, unlike the third team, which is blessed with green, the only nonprimary color, and a color that blends well with grass, when they’re escaping in grass fiends. Red and blue really stick out. Not exactly fair to the other 2 teams. I have not researched which color tshirts has won most often.)

  • Mimmy

    Loved the egg dying tips.. We might have some for Christmas…. I can’t wait to try them….lol

  • My daughter love eggs and I know she will be happy if we make one like that. Great sharing.

  • HeatherV

    Thanks for posting. My daughter was asking about dying eggs. We haven’t done it in a few years. Will have to do a test batch to try it out. We get brown eggs now so I’m not sure how much colour will show.

  • Jessica

    Last year we wrapped our eggs in onion skins (the whispy, dry part)and then in old tea towels and tied them with string. Boiled them like normal, and they were the most beautiful eggs. Some we put flower petals and grass inside the onion skins and they gave the eggs a little more color and design. We also used turmeric, canned blueberries/cherries. Haven’t had much luck with red cabbage….Now that we have gone “natural,” we will never go back!

  • Nancy

    I did this last year and had success, but the trick is to use a bit more vinegar and store the eggs with the dye in mason jars overnight (or 2) in the fridge. They look pretty too, and the kids loved watching them get brighter. They looked cool in the glass mason jars!

  • Kathleen

    I tried dyeing eggs this way a couple of years ago and, while the colors were beautiful, they rubbed off! Where did I go wrong? (last year we used a pan of German watercolors to paint eggs–not the same, but the kids had fun)

  • Kathleen: Without knowing exactly what you did, I can’t say. But I do know that, with this method (and, importantly, with these materials), the colors don’t rub off!

  • This is wonderful!!!! Always looking for better ways to feed my little family!

  • Casey

    A related note – boiling eggs that are easy to peel and that have virtually no cracking make dyeing eggs more fun and more edible.

    Note: I never like hard boiled egg yolks that were so dry that you choked while eating them. Step four is the secret!

    Depending on the size of pan, how many eggs you boil, and stove flame intensity, times may vary for you. Also, since you’re working with boiling water, protect yourself. Oven mitts and long sleeves can protect you from boiling water splashes.

    1. Boil water (enough to cover 6 eggs by about 1 inch).

    2. Warm eggs to room temperature by using tap water…start cold and gradually increase temp ’till pretty hot (not all the way hot)…about 3-4 minutes. The last two minutes with hot temp.

    3. With a slotted spoon, carefully lower eggs, one by one, into boiling water.

    4. Boil eggs for about 12 minutes for a softer egg yolk (my favorite). About 15-16 minutes for hard egg yolk. Your times may vary.

    5. Before the eggs are done boiling, prepare a pan/bowl filled with water/ice that is will hold all the eggs. About 25% ice. Too much ice won’t leave enough room for eggs.

    6. Turn off heat. One by one using a slotted spoon, take eggs directly from hot pan and gently lower them into ice cold water.

    7. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

    8. Try starting peeling at the narrow end where there’s a gap between the shell and the egg. Tap on hard surface, if necessary.

    9. Great for dyeing and/or eating.

    9. Done!

  • LYN

    Looking forward to trying this – Thanks!

  • Debra Spurlock

    I put my eggs in a large pot and cover with water, fill to 2 inches above top of eggs. I bring the eggs to a roiling boil, remove from heat and cover. Let stand 12 – 15 minutes. Then I put the pot in the sink and add cold water, while pan is filling up I swish them gently around in the pot with my hand. Sometimes in the summer I add a tray of ice cubes to the water. In winter my tap water is ice cold (well water). I tap them gently on counter in several different areas, then roll them gently between my 2 hands. Peel gently, insuring you get the thin film under the egg shell. Never had a problem, works great every time.
    Your natural dyes for the eggs work great, even on fresh from the coop brown eggs.

  • [...] with a family tradition of dying eggs on Easter, some friends and I decided to take 100 Days of Real Foods’ advice and use natural [...]

  • Gina

    I am planning to dye eggs with my 2 year old using whipped cream (for a fun sensory experience). Is there a special way to make these dyes in a more concentrated form, or do I just use less water? I don’t want to water down my whipped cream, and I don’t want to use artificial dyes – which is typically what is used.

  • Blair

    It’s not like we eat the shell though, is it really necessary? I tried the blueberries and turmeric last year on our brown eggs. the blueberries left a faint blue tint and the turmeric did not even show up at all.

  • Ashley

    After learning about how artificial coloring isn’t good, we have been trying to steer clear of it. However, I am wondering why is it bad for the egg shells to be dyed with the artificial food coloring? We don’t eat that part.

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