When I was little, there was one way that my family dyed eggs: with a kit from the grocery store. It was lots of fun, but depended on chemicals and unnatural coloring. But we certainly didn’t mind as we fished Technicolor eggs out of vinegar baths.
My daughter is now old enough to dye eggs, so I started looking into how to do it. The kits I used are still around, and some friends recommended using Kool-Aid or food coloring. Great ideas, but I wanted a more natural way to do it. Maybe I'm lame, but hot pink eggs just seem… wrong. So I looked for alternative methods, and I found two that sound promising.
First, you can dye (stain is probably the more accurate term) eggs using natural food pigments. Better Homes and Gardens has some great instructions for natural dyeing with food. As examples, you can use blueberries for blue dyes, beets for pink, grape juice for lavender, and turmeric for yellow. You have to extract the colors from the foods before you can use them on the eggs and it is more work than just dropping a colored tab into a cup of vinegar – but the results are lovely.
Second, if amateur chemistry is not your thing, Eco-Kids has a coloring kit with dyes made with natural and organic fruit and plant and vegetable extracts. There are 3 powders that can be used alone or combined to offer a total of 6 colors. I've been seeing this kit everywhere, online and around town, and it definitely piqued my interest.
Be forewarned: the colors you'll get from the natural dyes won’t be as exciting or fluorescent as the colors you'll get from synthetic dyes. But that doesn't mean your kids' eggs won’t be beautiful. You can jazz up the shells by cracking them a bit before dyeing them (the eggs will have a marbled look after you peel them). Or, you can marbleize the shells themselves, using the Shaving Cream Technique:
- Spread white shaving cream onto a cookie sheet
- Apply drops of natural dye/color pigments across the surface
- Use toothpicks to swirl colors
- Roll dry, cool hard-boiled eggs in the colored shaving cream
- Allow color to set for a few minutes
- Wipe off shaving cream with a paper towel
- Rinse and admire beautiful marbleized eggs!
If you want to skip the messiness of dyeing all together, temporary tattoos and stickers adhere quite well to egg shells, and are mess-free. And you can always clean up afterwards with Seventh Generation 100% recycled paper towels.
How do you and your family dye eggs? Do you have tips for natural egg dyeing?
Photo: Paul Goyette