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April 17, 2014 • Posted by Alexandra Supel
Making Easter eggs is a great family activity to get everyone involved. For this Easter, instead of buying chemicals, experiment with natural ingredients and explore the various colors you can get from foods in your fridge! From berries to vegetables to spices and more, the color combinations are almost endless!
To start, use cleaned hard-boiled eggs. White eggs work best, because they absorb the most color, but brown-shelled eggs work very well with onion skins to give it a deeper brown or yellow hue. Once your eggs are cleaned (so that they can absorb the color better), place them in a stainless steel pot with the ingredients you plan to use. It is also a good idea to rinse any produce you’re dying with in order to remove any dirt or bacteria from the store.
Cover the eggs and ingredients with warm water (to avoid eggs cracking from temperature shock) and add some vinegar. Vinegar has properties that allow the egg shells to absorb more color so the final results are more vibrant. Bring the water to a boil and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Once that is finished, leave the eggs to cool in the water or add cold tap water to hurry to process. Leaving the eggs in the dye for longer will deepen the shade.
Using natural ingredients is a great way to introduce some scientific experiments, such as the illusion of color. Many plants produce different colors when used for dying depending on how they are handled. For example, red cabbage produces a surprising blue shade and green and red beets yield a gray-mauve shade. Some plants also produce different dyes depending if the plant is steamed first, boiled, or if baking soda is added. It’s a fun opportunity to test your guessing skills!
Here’s a list of some traditional ingredients used for dying and the colors they should produce:
- Onion skins: Marbleized oranges and yellows (or with brown eggs—deep brown shades)
- Paprika: Light orange
- Turmeric: Vivid gold
- Carrot tops: Soft gold
- Carrots: Yellow with olive overtones
- Black tea: Reddish tan
- Coffee: Milk-chocolate brown
- Cinnamon: Subdued mahogany
- Beet root: Brown with a purple cast
- Beet tops: Dove gray
- Spinach: Pale green
- Shredded red cabbage: Midnight blue and teal
- Blue potatoes: Muted teal
- Grape juice: Deep lavender
- Blueberries (frozen is ok): Deep blue
- Raspberries (frozen is ok): Light fuchsia
- Blackberries (frozen is ok): Plum
*Although vinegar helps with the absorption of color, do not use it when dying with onion skins. Also in regards to onion skins, you don’t necessarily need to buy the onions at the store—many stores have bins full of skins that have fallen off or been ripped off. You might get a few looks if you grab them out, but hey—do it for the kids!