dyeing eggs with natural dyes… (or an attempt to)

Maybe it’s a bi-product of living in San Francisco, but I generally appreciate finding ways to be more natural or green. It’s no surprise I was instantly attracted to the idea of dyeing Easter eggs with natural dyes. When I first saw a pin for Growing a Green Family’s tutorial, I was tempted to give natural dyes a try but they looked pretty labor intensive. However, when I saw the vibrant and beautiful hues in Two Men and a Little Farm’s post I was sold! The extra work seemed worth trying…

Picture from Two Men and a Little Farm:

My final results:

I was clearly wrong. It was NOT worth it. Granted, I know that my domestics skills are average at best (have you seen our about? “normal” may be a little generous for me) but I feel I really missed the mark with this one.

I started by going through my kitchen looking for any of the items from the great list provided by Two Men and a Little Farm. I found the following:

  • Red Onions
  • Red Wine
  • Black Tea
  • Spinach
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Paprika
  • Chili Powder

I determined I could try 4 colors- Brown, Orange, Green, and Red. I boiled black tea in one pot (brown); carrots, paprika, and chili powder in another (orange); red onion “skins” in a third pan (red); and spinach, basil (green) in the fourth. I was surprised by the 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar the tutorial specified so I checked a few other tutorials and they all called for less. I added about 3 tablespoons of vinegar instead (I used apple cider vinegar as the Trader Joe’s employee SWORE it worked the same) to each pot.

After letting them simmer for at least half an hour, I was disappointed by how light the water appeared (for all colors except the brown). So I added more of the ingredients (more of the ingredients listed above as well as red wine to the red onions and lime peels to the spinach) to each pot, brought them to a boil again, reduced heat and let simmer again for at least another half hour.

I filtered the results through a coffee filter lined strainer.The orange and green “dyes” were very faint. The green was so light I didn’t even bother soaking an egg. I left the other three to soak in the fridge overnight.

I am not sure what happened to the brown egg (maybe the vinegar dissolved it?), but I was frightened when I removed it from the cup.

The other 2 eggs had only changed slightly. The orange seems to have a film around it. I was able to easily rub/scrape off the color.

I was just glad that I had used food coloring to dye the rest of my eggs (originally meant as a point of reference for the vibrancy of the natural eggs). If you are concerned about the toxicity of synthetic dyes, try a natural food coloring.

Have any of you had more success with natural dyes?

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