PAAS is so…predictable. What we find far more intriguing in terms of dyed Easter egg escapades—not to mention far more natural and, we dare say, safer in terms of staining little hands—is eschewing the expected tablets of fizzy colors and instead embracing kitchen scraps. Yes. Scraps. The half pot of coffee left from this morning. That tin of musty turmeric. The bag of frostbitten blueberries. Even that half glass of wine that went undrunk last night (for shame!). Each takes on new meaning in tandem with vinegar, water, and eggs, creating a natural, pastel-ish, non-lurid hue.
We snooped around our kitchens like crazy after borrowing inspiration–and a nifty red beet-dyeing trick–from Leslie Jonath, author of At the Farmer’s Market with Kids. Then we tinkered with all manner of ingredients languishing in our kitchens to come up with some really swell dyes—and we’ve got the stained fingertips to prove it. We’ve listed almost enough ideas to fill an egg carton, though don’t let our suggestions squash your curiosity—or your creativity.–Renee Schettler Rossi
LC What The Kids Can Do Note
Lest you get caught up in your second childhood and find yourself monopolizing things, author Leslie Jonath gently notes that the kids ought to be part of the whole dyed Easter egg process, not just the dipping and dyeing. So back off and let them help think of, assemble, and prep the ingredients for dyeing the Easter eggs, just as they do with regular ingredients when it comes time to make dinner (uh, they do help you, right?). It may take a little time, but they’ll be so much more invested in the outcome. (Sorry. Not to lecture, it’s just hard to argue with that logic, eh?)
Special Equipment: Patience. Lots and lots of patience.
Dyed Easter Eggs Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 45 M
- Makes as many as you'd like
- Eggs, preferably white and not brown
- White (distilled) vinegar
- Cold water
- Dye ingredients (ideas follow, but feel free to follow your instincts and go all zany)
- 1. To prepare the eggs, place them in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn off the heat. Let the eggs stand in the hot water for 20 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully remove the eggs from the water and pat them dry. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- 2. To prepare the dyes, bring 3 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar and the dyeing ingredient for the desired color. Return the water to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Carefully strain the dyeing liquid into a bowl or wide-mouth jar, discarding the solids. Let the liquid dye cool. Repeat with each dyeing ingredient.
- 3. To dye the eggs, when both the eggs and the dyeing liquid are cool, add an egg or two to each bowl of dye. Set aside, turning occasionally, until the desired hue is achieved. (Naturally, the longer you leave the eggs in the dye, the more robust the color. Depending on the desired color, the eggs may need to sit as little as a few minutes or as long as overnight.) Transfer the eggs to a plate lined with a paper towel or return them to their egg carton until dry to the touch.
Color Me A Rainbow Variations
- Red Beets for Magenta- or Red-Dyed Eggs
- Use 6 medium red beets, grated, or 4 cups chopped canned beets. (For true red, use brown eggs. This dye works best when hot, so reheat it as needed.)
- Red Cabbage for Blue-Dyed Eggs
- Use 4 cups chopped red cabbage, 4 additional cups water, and 3 additional tablespoons white vinegar.
- Garam Masala for Caramel-Dyed Eggs
- Use 3 to 4 tablespoons garam masala (an Indian staple that’s a blend of up to 12 spices).
- Blueberries for Lavender-Dyed Eggs
- Use 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries.
- Coffee for Mocha-Dyed Eggs
- Substitute strongly brewed coffee for the full amount of water.
- Red Wine for Burgundy- to Purple-Dyed Eggs
- Substitute red wine for the full amount of water. (Not your best Cabernet Sauvignon, mind you. Any plonk will do. And bear in mind, the egg will turn a darker shade as it dries…sort of like that splotch of carmenere on your rug.)
- Curry Powder for Pale Yellow-Dyed Eggs
- Use 3 to 4 tablespoons curry powder.
- Turmeric for Vibrant Yellow-Dyed Eggs
- Use 3 to 4 tablespoons ground turmeric. (Wipe the excess ground spice from the eggs with a damp cloth after extricating them from the dye.)
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Mar 26, 2012
These dyed Easter eggs are not a quick project. It’s wise to plan on the better part of a day to make the dyes and color the eggs. Because red is my favorite color, I began with beets. It’s easy enough grate the beets and simmer the dye. Once the cooking of the beets finished, it took a lot of pressing to get to the liquid from the solids. I quickly added a cooked white egg and waited 15 minutes. The egg emerged from the dye more magenta than red. I reheated my dye in the microwave for 20 seconds and tried again with a brown egg. This time, I added a longer dying time (about 45 minutes), and a beautiful red egg surfaced! Next, I tried the wine dye. My first egg came out burgundy, but turned purple as it dried. I gave the next egg a longer soak, and it came out of the dye purple. I also used turmeric and coffee. The coffee produced a latte-colored egg. The turmeric dye was thicker than the other dyes, even after straining. When I pulled my egg out of that dye, it was covered with a thick blanket of turmeric. When I wiped the egg clean, it was colored a bright sunny yellow. This is a great way to use up stuff in the kitchen, and the eggs come out rustic and beautiful. My teenage son really liked the eggs dyed in the wine. The purple color was muted but very cool. My favorite was the brown egg dyed in the beet dye that came out a true red. It is nice to have a chemical-free alternative to dying Easter eggs.
Mar 26, 2012
Prior to testing these dyed Easter eggs, I already knew about a few of these dyes, as I always prefer to do them this way rather than use the chemical store-bought dyes. Most colors are certainly not as vivid, but that is part of the reason I love these techniques, as Easter for me is all about pale colors. Using white eggs is indeed important so that the colors really stand out more. The toddler LOVED the eggs dyed with red beets. My teen loved the lavender ones and our exchange student liked the red wine ones. As for me, truthfully, I just love them all together. Also, feel free to glue some string or tiny shapes such as hearts, circles, triangles, and so on, cut out of paper. After dying, the shapes underneath are colored, but not as strongly.
Mar 26, 2012
It's fairly easy to cook enough eggs all at once to do each dyed Easter egg variation, although I didn't do all the color variations. One does need to watch that the boiling water doesn't go crazy or the eggs may crack. I put the eggs into each dye and then let them sit overnight. Then I pulled each one out and set them on a rack to dry.
BLUE: This result was so beautiful and so different from the store bought packages. The amount of effort is quite high, though. I did have so much leftover that I could just take the dye out of the fridge to use with more eggs later.
YELLOW: I used curry powder. It was hard to strain out the powder. I ended up just rinsing them off. This required a little bit of work but not excessive.
Dyed Easter Eggs Recipe © 2012 Renee Schettler Rossi. Photo © 2012 Sheri Giblin. All rights reserved.