Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs?

Every year Teacher and I find directions for dyeing Easter eggs with natural dyes and every year we say “We should try that!” but so far we haven’t. When it’s Saturday afternoon and we’re faced with six excited kids bouncing off the walls, at least three dozen hardboiled eggs to decorate, and about an hour until dinner, we end up using the familiar dye pellets. I’ll bet you would too! But this year I decided I really, really wanted to try natural dyes. Teacher and I are trying to incorporate more “green” and natural products into our lives, and onion skin dye just has to be more natural than those little pellets, right? Besides, it would be so much fun, and such a good experience for the kids. I started researching online and was surprised by what I discovered!

One method to dyeing eggs with natural dyes is to put raw eggs in a pot with water, vinegar, and a dye material like dry onion skins, then simmer this mixture for 20-30 minutes. When they’re done the eggs will be a gorgeous shade of yellow… and taste like onions. Eeeeewwwww! I also found out that some natural dyes may be toxic depending on what dye material you use. Since everyone in my family LOVES boiled eggs I’m thinking that toxic dyes and onion-flavored eggs aren’t going to work for us.

Another method for dyeing eggs with natural dyes is to boil the eggs ahead of time, then boil the dye material in vinegar water separately. When the dye is as dark as you want you put the eggs in and let them sit overnight. That’s an easy method, but we won’t be able to make our traditional striped and plaid eggs… unless we start on them tonight! I didn’t find out if these eggs will taste like the dye material too, but wouldn’t be surprised if they do – eggshells are permeable after all.

So now I don’t know how we’re going to dye our eggs this year. I was really looking forward to using natural dyes but don’t want to risk toxic dyes or nasty flavored eggs; those little pellets are looking better and better to me all the time. I’m not ready to throw in the towel quite yet though!

Do you dye Easter eggs? What do you use to color them?

Amy Sue

Photo Credit: Not in One Basket by Peter Lee. CC BY-NC 2.0.

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