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Dyed Eggs, All Natural!

Dyeing eggs with natural ingredients offers the chance for a LOT more experimentation, imagination, and fun than buying a kit from the store. And you can save money dyeing eggs this way–onion skins, and veggies that are ready to go bad can be used to dye eggs. These food scraps can make dyeing eggs almost free, except the cost of the eggs.

You can dye eggs using foods that you already have in your kitchen, and the results are more beautiful than when you use synthetic dyes. It can either be a fast process, or one that unfolds overnight for marvelous effect; the choice is yours!

The basic recipe for dyeing natural eggs is:

  • Your dye object (fruit, vegetable, spice)
  • Salt: 1 tablespoon
  • White vinegar: 1 tablespoon
  • Water: about 3 cups
  • Optional items include leaves, wax crayons, muslin, thick and thin rubber bands, and whatever else you can think of to create different effects on your egg.

My favorite ingredients for dyeing eggs include blueberries, turmeric, grated beets, and red cabbage sliced into strips and chopped. I also use chlorophyll for green, which I know is hardly common in the average household but it makes for great green eggs (I use it in smoothies, so I have it on-hand). I’ve tried other ingredients for green and orange colors (spinach, carrots, chili powder, paprika) but the results were not that great and in the case of carrots and chili powder, didn’t work at all. I know other ingredients are touted as good egg dyes, but the above four give me everything I need and can be combined for different color effects. If you have egg dyes that you have used successfully, please feel free to share them in the comments at the end of this ‘spin!

These are my favorite eggs, dyed using beets, blueberries, red cabbage, and turmeric.

MAKE YOUR MIXES:

Making the dyes is pretty easy, though it does involve some grating and spooning. The basic concept for all mixes is to place your “dye” (food or dried spice) in water (enough to cover your eggs) and add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 3ish cups of water. From there you can either hard boil your eggs directly in the dye, or you can hard boil your eggs first, then let them sit in the dye for a few minutes or up to overnight.

The temperature of the dye has a huge effect on the colors you get. Boiling the eggs in the dye will create much more intense effects, while leaving cooled eggs sit in cooled dye (even overnight) will create more pale colors. But this is influenced by whatever you’re using as your dye. Blueberries create very dark colors overnight, while beets are more subtle. You just need to experiment.

There are literally an infinite amount of variations, combinations, and tools you can use that will change how your eggs will look. The only limit is your imagination! Here’s the step-by-step description of what I did to create the eggs I’ll show you today! But be sure to come up with your own recipes…it’s soooooo much fun!

TURMERIC

Turmeric can create wonderful effects on eggs. At right, the egg on the left was hard boiled then placed in a turmeric/salt/vinegar boiling bath for 1 minute (leaving it in for about 15 seconds creates a light yellow color). The egg in the center was wrapped in rubber bands then left to soak in warm mix for about an hour. The egg on the far right was hard boiled in the solution for about 15 minutes then left to cool for an hour.

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At left are two tablespoons of turmeric bubbling away with vinegar and salt. The egg on the far right from above is boiling away somewhere in there.

Turmeric can create a range of yellows, from a light canary yellow to an intense burnt butter color.

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The egg at right is wrapped in rubber bands before being dipped into its dye. These rubber bands created the striped center egg from the photo above. You can also use things like stickers or crayons to create negative space.

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BEETS

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I grated two beets to serve my egg-dyeing needs this year. It can be a mess, but beets are one of the best dyes and grating them compared to slicing them allows the release of more dye. Not only that, the gratings themselves can create lovely mottles on your egg shells.

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Eggs can be left to sit in their dyes for anywhere from a few minutes to overnight. Here, an egg sits in grated beets, salt, and vinegar; I’ve mounded the grated beet pieces over the egg to create a mottled effect.

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In addition to creating your different dyes, you can also “treat” the eggs in different ways. Here, I’ve wrapped a raw egg in muslin and secured it with a twist tie…

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Then the egg was hard boiled in boiling grated beet/salt/vinegar bath for about 20 minutes, then left to sit for about 15 minutes after I turned off the heat. It created a lovely pink color.

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Beets were also used on the two eggs at right. The egg on the top had two thick rubber bands placed on it before being left to soak in a cooled beet mixture over night (notice how the egg is yellow under the rubber bands; I dipped the eggs in turmeric for a few minutes before placing the rubber bands on the egg). The bottom egg was also left to soak in cooled beet mixture over night; notice the difference in color since this one had not been dipped in turmeric first.
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This beautiful egg was made by taking a hard boiled egg and wrapping it in muslin and soaking it with beets and juice over night. I wrapped the muslin in bunches, making sure it was uneven in places and secured it tightly with rubber bands. I then placed it in the dye, making sure that grated beet pieces were mounded on the top and around the egg.  You can see the wonderful effect.

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BLUEBERRIES AND RED CABBAGE

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This is my favorite egg. It is a hard boiled egg that I wrapped in red cabbage leaves then wrapped in muslin to keep it held together using a rubber band. I then boiled the egg for 15 minutes in a blueberry solution and left it soak there overnight.

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Here are the raw red cabbage leaves, laid out to be wrapped around the egg and then wrapped in muslin. You could also place a leaf or flower next to the egg if you wanted to create an image on the egg.

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Here I used frozen blueberries to boil in water, vinegar, and salt. I used about a cup of blueberries in 3 cups water. This egg was hard boiled, then I took some of the blueberries from my boil and laid them underneath and on top of the egg. The egg spent the night in a bed of blueberries.

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Here is the egg, getting put to bed with blueberries.

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This egg was made by taking about a dozen blueberries from the dye mix, and wrapping them next to the egg using a piece of muslin to hold them in place (closed at the top with a twist-tie). It was left to soak in beet juice for about an hour.

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This egg was created by creating a solution of cabbage leaves and blueberries together, then boiling this hard boiled egg for about 30 minutes in the mix.

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This egg was dyed using liquid chlorophyll. I tried spinach for green and it just looked dingy, and I’ve read elsewhere that chlorophyll works. It obviously does, but there’s a trick to it. The best way to get the green from the chlorophyll onto the egg is to rub it on with your fingers (no salt or vinegar needed). You only need about two drops of liquid chlorophyll to do the job as it is very concentrated. But it really works great.

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If you have tried any other natural ingredients or techniques to dye eggs in your kitchen, please share with us! And if you try my methods illustrated here, let me know how it worked for you. Don’t forget to have fun!


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