Monday, April 25, 2011

Naturally-dyed Easter eggs

My kids made these naturally-colored eggs with blueberries and coffee!
Even though we have avoided food coloring for almost 6 years, we've never made naturally-colored Easter eggs. (I usually have the kids soak their eggs in the store-bought dye for only a few seconds to avoid dye migrating through the shell.) But this year, we made dyes from fruits and veggies.

I chose only a few colors to make it easier on myself. I followed the instructions here for making the dyes; I picked purple grape juice for lavender, red cabbage for blue, beet juice for pink, and turmeric for yellow. I also followed the suggestion to boil the raw eggs in the dye bath (rather than cook them beforehand) to get a more vivid color.

Grape Juice: FAIL!  The eggs cooked in purple grape juice were a complete failure--they turned out gray! And I was ticked that I wasted a half bottle of grape juice.  See my used tea bag in the background? Hee hee.

Eggs cooking in grape juice. Do not try this at home: a complete waste.

Red Cabbage: Success!  I didn't believe it that red cabbage would produce a blue egg, but it did--and a beautiful blue egg, at that. 

Cookin' the cabbage. Cabbage-inator. Cabbage-orama.

I boiled a head of purple (aka red) cabbage in enough water to cover, and cooked for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the cabbage looked pale and gross--the water was a fantastic bright purple (the color I want my hair to be). I strained out the cabbage, added the vinegar, and let the eggs simmer for 15 minutes in the dye bath. I wasn't happy with the color, which was a very pale blue, so I soaked them for another 20 minutes or so in a measuring cup (I needed my pot back). They looked great.

Turmeric: Success! Turmeric is one potent coloring agent. After just a few minutes in the turmeric water (about 1/2 Tablespoon in probably 4 cups water) the eggs were yellow. I left them in the water for 15 minutes because they had to cook. The eggs were bright yellow (and so were my fingers)!

There are eggs in that turmeric, honest.

Beets: failure. I am sad to report that my beet-colored eggs were a failure, because beets are usually my Champion of Natural Colors, and it has never let me down before. :-( At this point, I am blaming the cheap generic canned beets I bought.

Beet juice looks all nice and red, but don't let it fool you.
Surprise special guest: Green.  I dipped some of my blue eggs into the turmeric for a few minutes, with lackluster results, but I was happy, since I didn't really have a plan for green at all. The green was pale, but okay.
Beet-colored (thumbs down), turmeric yellow (wow!), red cabbage blue, and spur of the moment green.
The eggs at the top of the page were made by my kids at a local farm, so I'm not exactly sure how they did it, but the blue colored eggs were made with dye made from crushed blueberries and the creamy tan one was from coffee. I think those turned out really well!


  1. Did you try coffee? I really want to do this next year. Thanks for the ideas!

  2. I didn't try it at home, but Peanut used coffee to dye his egg at the local farm. Next year, I'm going to try coffee, and fresh beets. :-)