Do you love decorating eggs at Easter but hate the thought of using chemical-containing dyes?
Maybe you have children who have sensitivities to the dyes found in food colouring and store-bought egg decorating kits, or perhaps you have little ones who are still too young to work with colours that stain little fingers. Maybe you just have a yearning to get back to nature.
Either way, the following recipes are for you!
To make natural Easter egg dyes, all you need is a stove (or other heat source), water, pots, jars or bowls, a variety of fruits, vegetables and/or spices and some vinegar.
Boil two cups of water, a handful of blueberries and a splash of vinegar (around 1/2 tablespoon) until the water turns colour. This will produce a purplish blue dye.
Boil two cups of water and a handful of spinach until the water turns soft green. Skip the vinegar. When I added it, the colour didn't leach out of the spinach leaves. This will produce a soft green dye.
Onion Skin Dye
Boil a bunch of onion skins with water until the water turns burnt orange. I skipped the vinegar here too. This will produce a nice brownish-orange dye.
Red Cabbage Dye
Boil two cups of water, a handful of red cabbage and a splash of vinegar (around 1/2 tablespoon) until the water turns reddish purple. This will produce a blue dye. To make a soft turquoise dye, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the cabbage dye once it has cooled.
Boil two cups of water, a handful of cranberries and a splash of vinegar (around 1/2 tablespoon) until the water turns red. This will produce a soft pink dye.
Add 1 tablespoon of instant coffee to 1 cup of hot water and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Stir until coffee is dissolved. This will produce a brown dye.
Add 1 tablespoon of turmeric to 1 cup of hot water and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Stir until turmeric is dissolved. This will produce a rich yellow-orange dye.
Boil some eggs until they are hard (place eggs in boiling water for about 8-10 minutes). Or - if you want to save the eggs - blow them out instead (find out how to do that here).
Make your dyes and let them cool.
Then, dip the eggs into the dye baths. Ideally, you will have enough dye (and a deep enough container) to cover the eggs completely. If not, use a spoon to continuously "bathe" the egg. The longer the egg is in the dye, the deeper the colour. But, do keep in mind that colours created by natural dyes tend to be a little softer and more pastel than commercial dyes - especially when "cold dipping". If you want richer colours, you'll need to boil the eggs in the dye (hot dipping).
Remove the eggs from the dye baths, let them dry and marvel at their beauty.
Here's a handy chart:
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