My son had his first Easter when he was 9 months old. I loved dying Easter eggs and was excited to do it again now that I had a child to share the experience with. However, I did not want to use the Paas egg dyes, which are made with food coloring, which is poison, basically. I knew my son was going to want to mouth those eggs and would therefore be putting dye straight into his mouth. I also didn’t want to be eating food coloring, and eggs shells are porous–the dye gets through. But if the dyes were made from safe, natural substances…
So thus began the tradition of naturally dyed eggs. That first year I went solo, but in the three subsequent years my friend Cassie has joined me, and together we’ve gotten pretty good at it! This year, I’m particularly proud of our eggs.
The color intensity was pretty good this year, though there were some paler ones in the bunch. I forgot to look at my notes from last year, so I forgot how to make green until we were almost done, and I forgot to try a new idea for purple. But I’ll share all my tips with you.
RED Red onion skins make a rusty red. Boil egg with a bunch of red onion skins.
ORANGE Yellow onion skins (from “yellow” onions that actually look more orange, not sweet onions that are actually yellow) make a rusty orange. Combine with yellow turmeric for a bright orange. Boil egg in the dyed water.
YELLOW Turmeric. Boil egg in water with turmeric.
GREEN Red cabbage plus turmeric. Some of Cassie’s red cabbage eggs (which are supposed to be blue) actually turned dark green for some reason. If you add turmeric dye to the cabbage dye you should get a bright green. Soak in dyed water until desired result (a couple hours to overnight).
BLUE Red cabbage. It might be robin’s egg blue like we got this year, or a deeper blue like we got last year, or even green like we also got this year. Do NOT add vinegar to the cabbage dye, it will ruin it. Soak in dyed water until desired result.
PURPLE I got my best result three years ago with huckleberries but it doesn’t always work, so don’t waste your berries. Next year I’m going to try mixing the red dye with the blue dye. In theory, that should work.
You can try adding salt (for berries) or vinegar (for other plant matter) to improve color absorption, but sometimes it backfires. Just so you know. Also, nature is weird and doesn’t produce consistent results. Which is kind of fun, actually–every year it’s a surprise! Okay, it can be annoying, too. I’ve found the warmer colors to be really easy to get, but the cooler colors are more challenging.
Happy egg dying!