Supplies You’ll Need
- An array of colorful veggies, fruits and other items found in nature. Use organic items when possible, but you can experiment with fresh, frozen or canned fruits and veggies (this is a great chance to use up leftovers).
- Plain white vinegar.
- Hard-boiled organic white eggs. If you use brown, the colors will be more muted.
- Pots for boiling your dye water.
- Tongs and spoons for dipping eggs.
- Shot glasses and little bowls for dyeing.
- A pan to set your egg dye bowls on, which makes it easier to move the bowls to the fridge.
Choosing Coloring Agents
Most items found in nature produce color if you add heat and water. Instead of making your own dye, you can also choose to use natural food dyes made with safe ingredients, such as India Tree’s Nature’s Colors. The above glasses of dye include cranberry dye, dye made with natural yellow food coloring, blueberry dye and purple cabbage dye. One thing to be aware of is the dye color is not the color of egg you’ll end up with. For example, the purple cabbage dye above produces lovely blue, not purple eggs. Also nature dyes are tricky and change on you from batch to batch and can also change if you add vinegar (more on that below). The only color I have problems with is light green – nothing I’ve found yet produces a springtime green color. However, there are plenty of other colors found in nature. Below are some nature items and the colors they’ll produce if used for Easter egg dye – remember results can vary.
- Red – onions, wild plum root or beets.
- Blue – purple cabbage, red cabbage, sometimes blueberries, elderberries.
- Yellow – marigold flowers, turmeric, white onion skin or goldenrod.
- Violet or purple – Camellia, blueberries, purple grapes or blackberries.
- Dark purple (blackish) – hibiscus.
- Pink – most red berries, cranberries and sometimes cherries work. Note, I’ve had better luck with fresh, not frozen cherries.
- Brown or tan – coffee, various dark teas, walnut hulls, paprika or sassafras.
- Orange – yellow onion skin, chili powder or carrot roots.
- Dark orange – red onion skins.
- Dark green – blueberries and a few tablespoons of tumeric.
Making Your Easter Egg Dye for the Cold Dip Method
There is a hot water method for dyeing eggs. However, it’s not kid friendly because it involves boiling then simmering the egg in the dye, so if you’re dyeing Easter eggs with the kiddos, stick to cold dipping. Let’s say we’re using cabbage to make dye. Chop up 1/4 of a cabbage and place it in pan or pot with 4 cups of water. The more water you use the more diluted your color will be. Experiment to see how strong your colors can be using different amounts of water. In many cases, you’ll want to add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar for each cup of water used. *NOTE, vinegar is not a must-have – more on this below. Bring your cabbage to a boil, reduce the heat and let the cabbage simmer awhile to allow the color to deepen. I usually let my produce, flowers, what have you, simmer for 30 minutes.