This year, I wanted to do something a little different. I wish I could say it was to prevent my kids from ingesting harmful artificial dyes, or that I was trying to prevent artificial dyes from entering the water supply. I really, really wish I could say this. The real reason I decided to dye the eggs with natural dyes is 1.) I wanted to avoid doing my Econ homework. 2.) I didn't have any artificial dye. 3.) It sounded fun.
People have been dyeing eggs for centuries, and I promise, they didn't use those little Paas kits. They used things like onion skins, berries, leaves, and spices. So, if they could do it, why couldn't I? I did some research online and found a few things that work really well, and got some ideas for some other items. There are two ways to do natural dyeing. One way, you boil the eggs in the dye. The other way is to boil the eggs first, then color in warm or cool dye. Since I wanted to eat the eggs, I chose to boil first and then dye. If you boil the eggs in the dye, they get a funny texture and taste.
Before I got started, I needed my supplies. I took toilet tissue rolls and cut them to make stands for the eggs. I also covered my table with newspaper.
Of course, I did the traditional onion skin dye. This worked the best. The color was amazing, and it dyed the fastest. To make the dye, take yellow onion skins and boil them in some water with about two tablespoons of vinegar. I used about 2 cups of water. I boiled the skins for about 10-15 minutes. Easy!
I also made dye with chili powder. I took about 3 tablespoons of chili powder mixed with about 1 1/2 cups of water and boiled for about 5 minutes. Next time I will strain the dye after cooking it to get the powder out. It left gritty textures on the eggs.
The tops of the strawberries (the green part) can also be used to make dye. Theoretically, it makes a golden dye. The dye came out a pretty color, but it didn't make the eggs have much color. To make this dye, take the tops of a pound of strawberries and mix with about 1 1/2 cups of water and a splash of vinegar. Boil for ten minutes, then simmer for twenty.
Did you know you can make dye from violets? I didn't until today. This dye was also quite pretty. I don't think I had enough violets, but the dye did make a small change to the color. I boiled the flowers for about 10 minutes in about 3/4 cup of water with a splash of vinegar.
I had read that you can use spinach to make dye, but I didn't have any. What I do have is an abundance of dandelions. So I substituted dandelion greens for the spinach. I used about three cups of dandelion greens and two cups of water. With greens, you use salt instead of vinegar, and it takes about one tablespoon. They boiled for about 15 minutes.
If you want to make blue eggs, you can use red onion skins or red cabbage. I didn't have either, which was sad. But the nice thing about Easter is it happens every year.
All in all, my kids had a great time making the eggs. The eggs take a lot more time to dye than with artificial dyes, but they turn out pretty. This is a lot more work than using the tablets, but I love the colors. Of course, there are the health and environmental benefits too, but I have to say that the best part of this project was experimenting with the dyes.