Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Natural Egg Coloring

photo via

One of our yearly Easter traditions includes egg decoration. In the past we have used food dyes from the grocery store, or a PAAS brand kits.

Throughout this past year, I have made an effort to eliminate artificial food colorings from my children's diets, so it didn't make sense to go the traditional dye route. How many times have you dyed eggs, only to find the egg white inside almost the same color as the shell? My kids love, love, love to decorate eggs, so I was excited when I read more about natural egg coloring.

Dying your easter eggs with natural colorants will take more preparation time, and will often not produce immediate results- most ot the dyes we used had to soak overnight. With that said, it will be a fun and educational process.

My kids were quite excited to find out that we were going to color our eggs with food. Yes, magic food! For our eggs we used beets, tumeric, and grape juice.

Here is what we did:

For the Beets: (Red/Pink eggs)

Cut about three beets up into large chunks. Place the chunks in a pot with your non-cooked eggs. Add enough water to cover the beets and the eggs. Add two tablespoons of vinegar, and boil for twenty minutes. Remove the eggs. If you desire a bolder color, return the eggs to the beet colored water after it has cooled, and store for additional time in the fridge. If you desire a lighter pink color, boil the beets separate from the the eggs, then add pre-hardboiled eggs to the beet colored water after it has cooled. Allow the eggs to sit in the beet water until desired color is attained.

For the Turmeric: (Yellow Eggs)

Add water to just cover the uncooked eggs in your pan, then add 3 Tablespoons of Tumeric, and 2 Tablespoons of White Vinegar to the water. Boil the eggs for 20 minutes, then remove the eggs. Again, if you desire a more intense color, return the eggs to the tumeric colored water for additional soaking time.

For the Grape Juice: (Blue/Purple Eggs)

You can use either frozen concentrate, or actual grape juice for this. If you use concentrate, to not reconstitute, just allow the concentrate to thaw and use the syrup to color. No cooking is required, but you will need to soak your eggs in the juice or concentrate for several hours, or possibly overnight depending on the intensity desired.

These are the combinations we used, but there are so many other possibilities out there! Red cabbage and onion skins are two other very popular choices. Use the time you are preparing your egg dye to have a very scientific talk about plant pigments :). These pigments are what give the plant its color, and what dye the egg.

Beets: Betalain

All of these pigments are considered to be health beneficial. In fact, several of them are considered to be cancer preventative (especially curcumin). Much better than the alternative

Here are eggs are, in all of their glory. We used brown eggs (for some reason I can only find brown organic eggs out here in NYC)- so we knew the colors would be a little muted and darker. If you use white eggs, the colors won't be so dark, and your beet colored eggs will appear more pink. Not quite the cute pastel ones we are used to, but my kids were still very excited about how dark these turned out, especially the purple ones. Afterward, we even took some time to paint with our left over dye- which makes a perfect all-natural watercolor.

I am very tempted to get these cute egg holders from to display the eggs in on the table. The set is 50% off right now....however, this recession will probably convince me otherwise.

Any of you have some Easter egg dying/decorating tips that you want to share? Leave a comment!

Have fun with your Easter preparations!


{erica} said...

you can also use onion skins for a lovely yellow shade...

we've done this in the past and they are so pretty!

Sherie said...

There's nothing grosser than trying to eat an egg that's had green dye seep through the shell. I would not eat them here or there. I would not eat them anywhere.
Yeah, that wasn't as funny as it initially seemed.

Theresa said...

We are going to try the onion skins next time- thanks for the suggestion Erica! I have heard they turn out beautiful.
Sherie- Dr Seuss would be proud :)

Ransoms said...

Your eggs are beautiful--can't wait to try that!