Naturally Dyed Eggs

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The earliest dyes came from nature. Yellow onion skins or hickory bark were used for yellow dyes. Madder root or brazilwood made red dyes. Walnut shells or coffee made brown. Barks, berries and leaves of other plants were used for their colors, too. Because nature provides so many different raw materials, natural dyeing is an art, not a science. You can’t always predict the results. But, it’s fun to see what happens.

To dye eggs naturally, start with either hard-cooked eggs or emptied eggshells. Then, choose a dyestuff. Some possible dyestuffs for eggshells are listed below. Use your own judgment about exactly how much of each dyestuff to use. Except for spices, place a handful- or two or three handfuls-of a dyestuff in a saucepan. Add tap water to come at least one inch above the dyestuff. This will be about 1 cup of water for each handful of dyestuff. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Simmer about 15 minutes or up to an hour until you like the color. Keep in mind that dyed eggs will not get as dark as the color in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.

With a very fine strainer (or cheesecloth, if you have some) strain the dye mixture into a liquid measuring cup. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of strained dye liquid. Pour the mixture into a small bowl that’s deep enough to completely cover the eggs you want to dye. Use a slotted spoon or a wire egg holder from a dyeing kit to lower the eggs into the hot liquid. Leave the eggs in the water until you like the color. If you’re using emptied eggshells, stir or rotate them to help the color reach all the shell parts evenly. Lift the eggs out with the spoon or holder. Let them dry on a rack or drainer. Eggs colored with natural dyes have a dull finish and are not glossy. After they are dry, you can rub the eggs with cooking oil or mineral oil to give them a soft sheen.

 

Dyestuff

Color

Fresh beets, cranberries, radishes or frozen raspberries Pinkish red
Yellow onion skins Orange
Orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed, or  ground cumin Delicate yellow
Ground turmeric Yellow
Spinach leaves Pale green
Yellow Delicious apple peels Green-gold
Canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves Blue
Strong brewed coffee Beige to brown
Dill seeds Brown-gold
Chili powder Brown-orange
Purple or red grape juice or beet juice Grey