Friday, April 6, 2012

Natural Dye for Easter Eggs: aka Crunchy Eggs

My sister-in-law has self-proclaimed "crunchy" tendencies (think granola) -- which I admire. She's aware and avoids harmful additives in foods and chemicals in products. I try to do as much of that as I can, but she's downright awesome at it. She sent a link around to family members with directions on making natural dye for Easter eggs. The pictures of the eggs were pretty-- very Martha Stewart-y, nestled in soft fabric and diffused lighting. They had much more vibrant colors than the tablet colors you get in dyeing kits and the directions seemed pretty straightforward.

So the boys and I set out this morning to get our crunchy on. I discovered that Clark might have OCD tendencies, based on his immaculate, methodical peeling of the onion, and that perhaps Cal will be more on the ADD side, as he cracked an egg open on purpose, washed his hands in the vinegar and water solution, and experimented with my reaction to his dropping cabbage bits in various places around the kitchen. As I progressed with the directions, I actually found them a little confusing and realized I did some of them wrong. I decided that I'd create this blog entry as a way for me to remember how I did these for if I want to do them again, as well as a less convoluted a tutorial for any of you who want to be crunchy about egg-dyeing.
Two beets, chopped, 4 cups water, 2TBS vinegar, boiled 30 mins 

Great color, but uneven and smeary

4 cups chopped cabbage, 4 cups water, 2 TBS vinegar

Boiled with eggs for 30 minutes

Kind of cool looking, but it didn't work the way it was supposed to
Cooked some of them longer in the cabbage, but scorched them

I reread the instructions and saw that I did it wrong. I was supposed to strain the beets and cabbage after it boiled for 30 minutes and then boil it ANOTHER 30 minutes with the eggs in the dye this time. That makes sense.

We peeled two onions.

Boiled them in 2 cups of water, 1 TBS vinegar for 30 minutes

They turned out burnt sienna-ish. This picture is a little deceiving-- they're browner.

2 cups water, 1 TBS vinegar, 1 TBS turmerac (spice) for 30 minutes
Love the result!

Clearly the onion skins and turmeric worked the best for vivid, solid colors. I redid the cabbage and beets, but instead of boiling them another 30 minutes I let the dye cool to room temperature and soaked them in cups like normal egg dyers. I also tried the turmeric at room temperature.

Soaked in room temperature turmeric juice for an hour
Soaked in cabbage water for 30 mins

Soaked in beet juice for 30 mins
Soaked in beet juice for 1 hour

Soaked in combination beet and cabbage juice for 1 hour
Soaked in turmeric juice for about 4 hours

Soaked in beet juice for about 4 hours
Final products, minus the one Cal ate and the scorched ones
Proud boys

They want to have a hunt NOW!
Turns out Calvin loves hard-boiled eggs

This was a fun experiment, even though it lasted longer than I expected. Thanks to my awesome recording of our mistakes and successes, next time we do it, and if any of you do it, won't take so long. The boys loved it, and they're excited to put some stickers on them and color on them with crayons. Cal wants to eat them.

Do you want to eat a bunch of natural, healthily-dyed eggs? Come on over. And Happy Easter!


  1. I saw this on the Today show last week and thought, why have we never done this before?? Looks fun and they turned out great, thanks for showing us that it can actually be done! :)

    1. You're welcome! It does make me feel good when I see Cal eat an egg that is slightly red from the colored shell, and know that it is not chemicals he is ingesting, just beet juice. :)

  2. Hey, not sure why my other post didn't take. :) I was just noting our similarities...we made some naturally dyed eggs w/ my sister-in-law, too! And she happens to also be my eco-mentor/guru (she even helped me make some homemade laundry detergent). :) It might be fun to meet up some time and do an eco-friendly activity w/ all our boys. :) Let's hope this comment posts! Happy Easter!

    1. I totally almost tried the homemade laundry detergent! Did yours turn out? I finally decided not to because the directions I found were for a gigantic batch and we have no space to store 5 gallons of detergent. It would awesome to meet up for some crunchy activities! How old are your boys? Happy Easter to you!

    2. I've got a 2.5 y.o. and a 5 y.o. Are your twins around 2? I love the laundry detergent. It works very well and was so easy (and cheap) to make! I just made a tiny batch (2 cups grated soap plus 1 cup Borax and 1 cup washing soda). :)

  3. Your blog served up this post after I commented on the crazy things boys do, so I clicked thru. I'm wondering how the eggs were after cooking for 30 minutes?? Did you peel and eat them? Also - re the comment above - I realize this post is old but did you ever try the homemade laundry detergent? I still make ours, by the bucketful, but if you don't have room for that, a friend of mine makes a concentrated version you might be into. If you want the recipe, message me and I'll hook you up.


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