How to Color Easter Eggs Naturally, with Items from Your Pantry or Fridge
Easter is often celebrated with the decorating or coloring of hard-boiled chicken eggs. Commercial dyes are sold for this purpose and may be used by mixing water, vinegar and a dye tablet and then submerging the egg in the dye solution. These egg-dyeing kits can be found in most discount stores or supermarkets around Easter time, and are marketed to children with all kinds of features. Kits include stickers, or shrink-wraps or other additives seemingly intended to increase creativity but which really do the work for you.
So this year, why not be really creative and work with natural dyes? The eggs in the image above were dyed using natural colors from items that should be in your fridge or pantry already. While you likely won't produce the same pastel colors that are commonly seen at Easter, vibrant, beautiful natural colors are possible using everyday food items you should have at home.
Some of the colors might surprise you!
Color Easter Eggs with Things from Your Pantry!
It may be less expensive to purchase commercial dyes for your eggs, but you will get better results with natural dyes. The colors you produce will be more vibrant and less "pastel" than what we traditionally associate with Easter, but go on and be a rebel! Natural colorings produce amazing results and you can be very creative in your effects by using etching techniques with your dye.
Common coloring techniques involve such things as coffee, onions, and spices that you should have on hand. In many cases, the items used for coloring are a by-product of another food item which can be consumed either before or after using the dye. For example, onion peels are removed before the onions are eaten, and then used to dye your Easter eggs.
Why Do We Color Eggs for Easter?
There's some controversy over the origins of Easter and whether it comes from Heathen pagan traditions or whether this is purely a Christian holiday. When it comes to Easter eggs, however, there can be very little doubt about their symbolism: They are a sign of fertility and representative of the new beginnings that come with Spring. Eggs are often used in pagan rituals and spell work to draw fertility to those hoping to become pregnant or for anyone hoping for a plentiful harvest. In paganism, eggs may be an offering to a particular deity in the hopes of gaining favor and a fertile Spring.
The Goddess Ostara (Eostre) is celebrated in the Spring with the Vernal Equinox on or around March 21st every year. This is one of the reasons that we color eggs and have egg hunts at Easter time.
Effects on Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs
You'll notice that most of the eggs on this page have some kind of "effect" on them. This happens in a number of ways, and many of these eggs are different from one another. You have several options for putting effects on your eggs, including wax etching, wrapping your eggs with twine before dyeing them, or pasting leaves or other natural patterns to your eggs before dyeing them (use a natural paste, such as flour mixed with water) and then peeling them off afterward.
The eggs shown to the right were produced using onion skins and then boiling the eggs while wrapped in the skins. Their creator put grains of (uncooked) rice between the skin and the eggshell before boiling to produce this effect.
Natural Easter Egg Dye Color Chart
1 Quart Brewed
3-4 Cups Berries
Light Golden Brown
Varied by Method
1/4 - 1/2 Quart
4-5 Cups, Chopped
Some dyes may need to rest overnight in order to reach the point they will color your eggs. This is the case with the red cabbage. Let it sit!
Preparing Your Dyes
The dyes you'll be using must be prepared before they will color your eggs. In most cases, the instructions below should produce your dye. You may need to let your dye rest overnight (as is the case with red cabbage).
- Place your dye source in a pot on the stove.
- Add water to 1 quart*.
- Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar.
- Bring to a boil.
- Allow dye to cool before coloring your eggs.
* Your pot should have 1 quart of liquid in it, so in the case of liquid ingredients, add the amount listed in the table above and then water until you have a total of 1 quart of liquid to work with.
Coloring Your Easter Eggs the Natural Way
Once your dye is ready, you should take previously boiled eggs and make sure that their surfaces are clean. If you wish to do any etching, do that prior to coloring your eggs.
Submerge your eggs in water the same way that you would do if you were working with a commercial Easter egg coloring. If you don't like the color, continue soaking the eggs until they've taken the desired color!
© 2014 Becki Rizzuti
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