Post-Easter Eggs Dyed Naturally

>> Thursday, April 15, 2010

Every year after Easter, I promise myself that next year I'll try the natural method for dying eggs, and every Easter without fail, I break that promise to myself. For one thing, the natural method (using plants to make a dye instead of food coloring or a store bought kit) is more time-consuming, and Easter is already a busy time of year. But for another thing, being the conscious shopper that I am, I couldn't bring myself to waste perfectly good beets and spinach and blueberries on egg dye.

So this year like usual, we went with our old standby...a Paas egg-dying kit, which hasn't changed in 25 years. Seriously. It's exactly the same every year that I've bought one, and exactly the same as I remember from when I was little. Ah, nostalgia...If only it didn't contain those pesky artificial colors.

Then yesterday, I was making veggie broth out of my vegetable scraps - carrot and potato peels, celery leaves, onion pieces - and at the same time, I was preparing some beets to cook for dinner, and it occurred to me...Instead of wasting perfectly good beets on egg dye, maybe I could use the beet peels and stems. Instead of the food part, I could use the waste part.

Here's what we did:

Step 1: Fill a pot with a quart of water, 2 Tbsp. of vinegar, and beet scraps.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 or 30 minutes. Then remove and compost beet scraps.

Step 2: Prepare eggs. We were having scrambled eggs for dinner, so I used the method where you poke a small hole in each end of the eggshell and blow out the eggs into a separate bowl. Then clean the shells well. The advantage of this method is that you don't have to keep the dyed eggs refrigerated, and you can keep them as long as you want. The disadvantage is that they float in the water, unlike hardboiled eggs. This turned out to be a bigger problem than expected...On the other hand, the disadvantage of hardboiling the eggs is that your eggs take on a strange taste, depending on what you used to dye it (or so I've read).

Step 3: Submerge the eggs into the dye and let sit until desired color is achieved. At first, we tried 5 minutes, but the eggs turned such a light pink, you could barely tell they were dyed at all. I decided to let them sit in the dye overnight, but like I said, our eggs weren't sinking. We couldn't sit around all night holding the eggs in the dye, so I put a small plate on top of all the eggs to hold them down.

Step 4: Remove eggs and enjoy. When we woke up in the morning, our white eggs had turned into brown eggs. Not red like beets. A slightly pink, dirty looking brown!

Will we ever dye eggs naturally again?

It was kind of a failed project, in the sense that we ended up with ugly eggs instead of beautiful Easter eggs. On the other hand, it was a fun failed project - one that both kids and grown-ups enjoyed - and I got a little extra use out of my beet scraps and eggshells that were headed for the trash. So yes, I'd do it again, but next time..

  • I would use hardboiled eggs.
  • I would let the eggs sit in the water for less time.
Hmmm...I wonder what other food scraps I could use to entertain my children...

Have you ever tried the natural egg-dying method? How'd it go for you?


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Rachel April 15, 2010 at 9:58 PM  

Erin, I have tried it and I did not like the results either. It was a few years ago. I used red onion, and some other stuff. Not as "pretty" as the fake color. I don't think we will do it again, the girls have so much fun coloring their eggs. :)

Rachel April 15, 2010 at 9:59 PM  

P.S. I love your blog! :)

Donna April 16, 2010 at 12:38 AM  

I tried it a couple years ago but was very disappointed in the results.

I used to use Paas, but now just use the recipe on the back of the food coloring containers. I double the vinegar to brighten the color. You might try adding vinegar to your natural stuff and see if it helps.

neonvultures April 16, 2010 at 9:55 AM  

YOu could also use different kinds of teas. Black tea would make the eggs brown, berry teas would turn them red, or purple, etc.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper April 16, 2010 at 1:45 PM  

@Rachel - I've seen other people do it and have much more success, but ours definitely didn't turn out very pretty. Luckily, I have boys who prefer brown over pink anyway!

@Donna - I did use vinegar. I think the dye probably wasn't concentrated enough.

@neonvultures - Tea! That's a great idea.

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