Naturally Dyed Eggs DIY

Food dyes have played a major role in our lives since we were kids. I remember how red my lips would get after eating popsicles and how my fingers would glow a bright Cheeto-Orange. These colors were always associated with special treats since I grew up in a household where chips and sweets were very scarce. I never thought twice about the food dyes until becoming a mama myself. Of course, there is much to question about the other ingredients (like artificial sweeteners and chemical additives) in those processed foods too. But there is still reason to raise awareness…

Canada and the European Union do not ALLOW as many dyes as the US does. The EU even requires a warning label on certain dyes – dyes that do NOT come with a warning here in the US. Still, there is much debate about whether food dyes are actually harmful – lots of wishy washy talk about not enough evidence.

Dyes may not cause hyperactivity in children, but it can definitely aggravate it in kids that already have ADHD and hyperactivity. I should know……my son is diagnosed ADHD/Anxiety and it is a constant struggle to be observant of the effects that certain foods have on him. Luckily he is an extremely healthy eater (much more-so than his siblings), but life happens and events come up where processed foods are eaten and it can almost be like you flipped a switch in him.

The bottom line is this – what do we need artificial dyes for anyway? They add ZERO nutritional value to food and may actually be causing harm. Go to Europe and you will see the same brand of processed foods over there with natural dyes, where here in the US, we still get the eye popping synthetic colored foods. It can clearly be done for them, so why isn’t it done for us?

There will be lots of synthetic food dyes being consumed this weekend for Easter with all the jelly beans and such. So I decided to lessen the exposure by creating some naturally dyed Easter eggs. There is nothing better than dying eggs for Easter. All those bright, beautiful colors just perfect for egg hunt hiding places. A little creativity with colors is always fun. Turns out, natural dyes are just as beautiful.

Here is what you need to do, and let me warn you, this is NOT difficult, but it is time consuming. Creating the dye will take a couple hours (you can do this ahead of time) and then to dye the eggs, you need at least 1 hour of soaking – possibly several hours. So, the immediate gratification of dyed eggs within minutes is not a possibility with natural dye. But, with that being said, I believe that the naturally dyed eggs are beautiful in their own way and the process of making them should become a NEW tradition.

So, let’s do this:

I made 4 colors – Yellow, Orange, Blue and Red. You can mix eggs to make Purple (red and blue) and Green (yellow and blue) too. You could do this with making Orange as well, but I wanted to test all the options I had to share with you.

To make Yellow you will need:

  • turmeric
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar

After 12 hours – white eggs on left and brown eggs on right (green egg made by doing half in turmeric/yellow and half in red cabbage/blue):

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To make Orange you will need:

  • 2-3 cups yellow onion skins
  • water to cover in pot
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar

After 12 hours – white eggs on left and brown eggs on right:

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To make Blue you will need:

  • 2 cups of shredded red cabbage
  • water to cover in pot
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar

After 12 hours – white eggs on left and brown eggs on right:

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To make Red you will need:

  • 2 beets, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar

After 12 hours – white eggs on left and brown eggs on right:

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Throw the food/spice + water in their own pots and bring all 4 of them to a boil. Set to simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Walk away and get your hard boiled eggs ready. Grab some jars (I used mason jars) too and a strainer.

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If you aren’t used to working with beets, protect your clothing and your hands, that stuff is red!
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Simmering turmeric….

After 1 hour, it’s not gonna smell like roses in your house anymore. Whoa. Nonetheless, strain the beets, cabbage and onion skins into their own jars and let them cool to room temperature. Add your Tablespoon of vinegar to each jar. Oh, and when you are stirring, be careful to use tools you aren’t attached to or metal, because look at my wooden spoon already after stirring the turmeric! Oh, and look at all those dishes I have to do….sigh

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I decided to do a little experiment for you…. I am dying white eggs and brown eggs to show you the different colors you can get. I am also dying eggs in the liquid created from the boil and the liquid + the food matter to see if it makes any different effects.

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Once the dyes were cooled and the hard boiled eggs were cooled, I placed one white and 1 brown egg in each jar and walked away again.

After 30 minutes, this is where we stand. Top picture is (left to right) Turmeric, Red Cabbage Juice and Red Cabbage Unstrained. Bottom picture is Beet Juice and Beets Unstrained, Onion Skins and Onion Skins Unstrained. The red cabbage has not gotten enough time to work it’s magic, but the turmeric, beets and onion skins are already bright! The brown eggs aren’t making any change really yet, but they may never…

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After 5 hours, this is where we stand. Brown eggs closer to you, white eggs farther…left to right you have just the Juice egg and then the Unstrained Juice egg (except for turmeric, which is just the juice) Look at that red cabbage!!! Such a beautiful blue. And the egg I left in the Red Cabbage Unstrained has little speckles on it from the shredded cabbage pieces. NEAT-O!

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Here are the eggs after 12 hours in the dye. I even made a green one by putting a yellow egg (turmeric) in the red cabbage (blue) overnight. I am VERY pleased!

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I have to say that I am impressed with the natural dyes so far. They leave a beautifully muted and calming color on the eggs – white and brown. Although, I probably wouldn’t bother dying the brown eggs again. The variety is stunning though. Was it exciting and instant gratification? Definitely not. But, I am proud of the step we have taken to try something new and keep it clean and safe. I hope you give it a try too. Kitchen science is always the best science anyway!

Happy Egg Dying!

 

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