Over the last few weeks I’ve seen many postings using natural dyes for Easter Eggs. The pictures are beautiful and I wondered if I could get my eggs to turn out as nice as the pictures. Over all I had mixed results. Some colors were the same as the pictures - other colors I didn't come close.
If you want to try naturally dyeing eggs here are two important things to know before you start:
Natural dyes are not going to be as vibrant as commercial dyes.
The process will take hours - at least a 1/2 a day or more.
But first I recommend you read these two blog postings on natural dyes and decorating techniques from the Herbal Academy of New England. I thought they had some great suggestions for natural dyes.
The Day Before Cook your Eggs:
Cook your eggs gently by starting with a pot of cold water on low heat. Don't bring your eggs to a full boil but just to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Cover and remove from heat and let stand until completely cool. I recommend you do this the night before. By morning you will have perfectly cooked un-cracked hardboiled eggs.
Select your Dyes:
What I liked about natural dyes is that you can use what you have on hand. In my freezer I found a bag of frozen blueberries (blue) and cranberries (red). In my spices I found turmeric which I thought would make a great yellow dye. I wanted a green color and I decided to try using green tea.
Berries Smashed or Cooked:
The blueberries I smashed and added enough boiling water to the bowl to submerge the eggs. The cranberries needed to be cooked until the berries popped open and I could mash them into a pulp. For the turmeric and green tea (4 tea bags) I just added boiling water to the bowl and let them steep and cool. Do not add your cool eggs to the hot dye mixture - this will result in cracked eggs.
Don't forget the Vinegar:I added a tablespoon of white vinegar to the all the bowls so the dye would set.
Hurry Up and Wait:
When the waters were cool I set my eggs into the cups. I first started with bowls but the eggs weren't submerged enough to be completely covered. I didn't want to add more water because I felt it would dilute the dye so I switched to using cups and glasses. And I waited and waited...and waited...
After 4 hours of waiting the other colors were ready and I pulled them out. However, the red egg in the cranberry pulp wasn't doing a thing. So I found some Red Zinger Tea and frozen raspberries in the freezer. I made up a new bowl of red dye and dropped my egg into it and waited another hour to see what happened.
5 Hours of dyeing:
After working on this for 5 hours I decided to throw in the towel! I wasn't going to get a red Easter egg. Oh well...
Left to right: Red (cranberry, raspberry and Red Zinger Tea) Yellow (turmeric) Purple (blueberries)
Left to right: Blue (blueberries) Yellow / Green (if you look close...) (green tea - however, I think some turmeric accidently got in my bowl of tea resulting in more yellow than green color).
Final thoughts: If you decide to do this I don't recommend this for really young children - the process takes a long time and unless you have patient children the waiting will be difficult. On the other hand, this process allows for some really cool creative thinking about the natural dye world and playing with other ingredients would be fun. Some of the suggestions from HANE on dyes are:
If you decide to try using natural dyes and you have success with red or green - please let me know!