Dyeing Easter Eggs Naturally: Lessons Learned From Our First Attempt

In our family, we always have reddish-brown Easter eggs.  We are Armenian and the Armenians dye their eggs this color using yellow onion skins.  My aunt still does this every year.  It’s not the most exciting for kids though.

This year I finally took the plunge and made my own natural dyes.  It was a lot more work!  But the eggs came out pretty cool.

First of all, plan to prepare the dyes early in the morning or the day before you decorate the eggs.  The dyes take a while to make, plus they will need a few hours to cool.

Choose Your Colors

There are plenty of websites out there listing different spices or veggies that make certain colors.  

We kept it pretty simple this year and did 4 colors.

RED – 1 can of beets and cranberry juice (in place of water) – Lesson #1: Ours turned out more ugly brownish grey.  Next time I wold try using fresh beets and more of them.

DARK ORANGE – 2 TBSP chili powder – Lesson #2 – Use more Chili powder

YELLOW – 2 TBSP Turmeric

BLUE – ½ of a head of red cabbage (chopped) Lesson #3 – Turned out great!

Other color choices:

GREEN – spinach, blueberries

BROWN – strong coffee

PINK – cherries

Anything that stains your hands could be used.
Note:  If you remember your preschool color combinations, you should be able to make green by combining yellow and blue, purple with red and blue.  I tried to do this, but totally forgot my color combos and mixed red and yellow thinking it would make green!  Oh well, on the bright side it did make orange. 
Make the Dyes

Lesson #4 – Definitely plan on doing this early in the morning or the day before.
Add the color ingredient of choice to 2 cups of water and 1 TBSP vinegar.  Simmer on the stove for 20 – 30 mins.  Strain the liquid and let it cool to room temperature.

Lesson #5 – Turmeric “stains” your pot.  I think it’s actually that the turmeric is really hard to get off.  Make this color last!

We used rubber bands to create stripes.  We tried to use white crayons to draw on the eggs before dying them, but that didn’t seem to work so well.

Lesson #6 – Rubber Bands worked well, white crayons not so much

Our Results

From left to right – Red cabbage, Turmeric, chili powder, beets.
None of us were impressed with the beets.

Lesson #7 –  The red cabbage dyes the eggs pretty quickly.  The rest we let sit in the coloring overnight in the refrigerator.  Turmeric did well, but something weird happened with the others, especially the beets.

Lesson #8 – Would totally do this again!

For more green Easter ideas, check out Big Green Purse’s Easter Blog Carnival!

Have you ever used natural dyes?

Update 4/7/12:  For more ideas on how to dye Easter Eggs naturally, check out Kelley’s Passion for Nutrition.

This post is part of Frugal Days Sustainable Ways and Crunchy Betty’s Outside the box Tuesday.


7 Responses to Dyeing Easter Eggs Naturally: Lessons Learned From Our First Attempt

  1. groovygreenlivin.com April 2, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    I’ve never tried this, but I loved reading about your attempt. It’s great to hear what works and what doesn’t! I think they turned out beautifully! The turmeric are my favorites.

  2. The Greening Of Westford April 2, 2012 at 12:28 am #

    Thanks Lori. I really like the turmeric and red cabbage ones. They are all ready for egg fights! Another middle eastern tradition. Can’t wait to see how they taste – apparently, the natural dyes impart some flavor to the eggs.

  3. Natural Mothers Network April 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us on Natural Mothers Network’s Seasonal Celebration and best wishes for a very Happy Easter!
    Warmly, Rebecca x

  4. Kelley @ Kelley's Passion for Nutrition April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Thank you for sharing, I am excited to try this!

    • The Greening Of Westford April 12, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Kelley. It was a lot of fun. I’m glad we did it. I did learn a few things along the way too – and from all the posts you listed!

  5. Queentob March 19, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    we tried making our own dyes last year and found some colors were more successful than others. now that the kiddos are a bit older, I think we’ll try rubber bands and other decorating ideas! Thanks for the tips, hapy easter!

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) March 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

      I had planned on trying this again this year, but the kids opted for decorating cookies instead! They never like eating the hard boiled eggs, cookies however are another story. Hope the rubber bands work out for you.

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