It’s the week before Easter when the debate in our house begins. Do I succumb to my child’s insistence and buy the glittering commercial package full of dried pellets of bright dye where I’m paying more for the packaging than the actual product? Or do I roll up my sleeves and attempt all-natural homemade versions which will be messier, more time-consuming yet ultimately more satisfying?
Thanks to Martha Stewart, homemade Easter egg dyes are simple and accessible. On her website she offers the simple recipe of 1 tsp vinegar, 20 drops food coloring (more if you want an intense color) per 1 cup of hot water. Place everything in a jar or deep bowl to ensure that the entire egg is submerged. Pull out the egg using metal tongs so that nothing gets stained.
I like drying our eggs in egg cups, but it will take off a ring of color around the egg’s midsection. Martha suggests making a drying rack out of a piece of foam board with straight pins pushed in at regular intervals. The heads of pins will hold aloft the egg so it can dry evenly.
Making Your Own Dyes
Martha’s decorating ways are nice, but I wanted something more organic. After a little bit of research I mixed 1 Cup beet juice with 1 Tbs of vinegar in a Ball jar for pink and 1 Cup of grape juice with 1 Tbs of vinegar for purple. Hard boiled eggs went into each jar for fifteen minutes.
That’s the thing with homemade dyes, they take longer to set. While those two colors worked on their respective eggs, I started boiling the peel of an orange in 4 cups of water with 2 Tbs vinegar for 30 minutes until I got a nice shade of yellow. After straining it through a coffee filter, I set it aside in another glass jar. Spinach, blueberries and onion skins went into the pot next. Not all together, of course.
By this time, the first eggs were out of the dye jars and drying. Several family members were using crayons on the eggs to add to the designs while others kept small hands from tracking dye on the walls and carpet. The entire process was long and messy, but it was a thoroughly satisfying experience experimenting with the assortment of fruits and veggies.
Even better was the feeling of family sharing and making memories for all of us, regardless of our age. I think my favorite part of the day was sitting down to dinner and seeing a rainbow of stained fingers down the table with the corresponding grins.
Amy L Overley is a blogger of creativity, trying her hand at all sorts of projects and writing about the amusing results. A foodie and avid baker, she’s constantly testing new recipes. One of her newest endeavors is creating edible wedding favors.