Before you pick up your Easter egg dye kit this year, consider going green and using natural dyes! Did you know that many food colorings contain color additives such as Red No. 3 and Yellow No. 5? According to the FDA, Red No. 3 can cause tumors and Yellow No. 5 can cause hives. So for a safe alternative look in your refrigerator and pantry.
Natural egg dyes can be made from a variety of ingredients. Here’s a list of what I’ve tried. You can mix and match materials to make different shades. Have fun & experiment.
Red/Pink: beets, canned cherries, crushed cranberries, and red sports drink
Orange: yellow onion skins, lemon peels and ground cumin
Red/Orange: chili powder
Light Yellow: tumeric
Golden yellow: canned blueberries with two tablespoons of turmeric
Blue: red cabbage leaves or blueberries (crushed)
Purple: grape juice
Dyeing Methods from organic.com
Method 1—Hot Place eggs in a single layer in a large, non-aluminum pan. Add the dyeing ingredient of your choice—it’s best not to mix until you are comfortable with experimenting. Cover the eggs and other dyeing “agent(s)” with one inch of water. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar per quart to help the color adhere to the egg, and bring to a boil. Next, simmer for 20–30 minutes or until the desired shade is achieved. If you cook the eggs longer than 15 minutes, they will become rather tough.
Method 2—Cold The cold method is the same as the hot method with the following exception. Once ingredients have simmered 20–30 minutes (depending on desired shade), lift or strain the ingredients out of the water and allow the water to cool to room temperature though you may wish to try keeping the ingredients in the colored water to give the egg more texture as the dye will become concentrated in areas where the vegetable touches the egg. Submerge the eggs until the desired color is achieved. You may keep the eggs in the solution overnight as long as it is refrigerated.
The longer the egg stays in the dye, hot or cold, the deeper the hue will be. Using vinegar will also help the color deepen. (If time is short, you can use fresh and frozen berries as “paints,” too—simply crush the berries against dry, boiled eggs!)
Once satisfied with your creation, place the eggs in an egg carton to dry. If you like, rub vegetable or mineral oil onto the dried egg to create an attractive sheen. Don’t forget to document your successes for next year!