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Go dye-free, color your eggs the old-fashioned way

We raided the web for some tips, tricks

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Did Easter sneak up on anyone else?

We are in the midst of a global pandemic, to be fair -- so it’s safe to say, parents this year get a pass if your Easter dinner isn’t perfectly planned out or your house isn’t appropriately decorated.

Did you even buy dye for Easter eggs? We can help you get that part sorted out.

You could go to the grocery store or try to order some through Shipt, Instacart or one of the other services, but it’s not really an essential item.

A trend that seems to be sweeping the internet the past few Easter seasons is naturally dyed eggs.

When asking around, it sounds like some people have been doing this for ages, opting to use fruits, vegetables and spices in place of store-bought food coloring or one of those synthetic dye kits sold at most major retailers.

If your interest is piqued or you’re wondering where to start, we’ve gathered some ideas.

Better Homes & Gardens posted some suggestions online, which we're sharing below, along with the recommendations of others on Pinterest, and several other outlets.

To make eggs that are ...

Blue-gray: Mix 1 cup of frozen blueberries with one cup of water, bring to room temperature and remove the blueberries.

Blue: Cut 1/4 of a head of purple cabbage into chunks and add to four cups of boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Let it cool to room temperature and remove the cabbage.

Green: Simmer spinach in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 3 teaspoons of white vinegar.

Green-yellow: Peel the skin from six yellow apples. Simmer in 1 ½ cups of water for 20 minutes; strain. Add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. Simmer 4 ounces of chopped fennel tops in 1 ½ cups of water for 20 minutes; strain. Add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar.

Orange: Take the skin of six yellow onions and simmer in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes and strain. Add 3 teaspoons of white vinegar. You could also try chili powder.

Red: Stir 2 tablespoons of paprika into one cup of boiling water; add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. You could also use beets, red onion skins or red cabbage.

Yellow: You have quite a few options here, depending on what color yellow you’d like to achieve. For a rich yellow, simmer 4 ounces of chopped carrot tops in 1 ½ cups of water for 15 minutes and strain. Add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. For a more mustard shade, stir 2 tablespoons of turmeric into 1 cup of boiling water and add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. You could also steep four bags of chamomile or green tea into one cup of boiling water, or try simmering the peels of six oranges in 1 ½ cups of water for 20 minutes before straining and adding 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. Several people on Pinterest swear by using cumin instead of turmeric, as well.

Brown-gold: Simmer 2 tablespoons of dill seed in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes and strain. Add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar.

Brown: Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to one cup of strong coffee.

Pink Cut a beet into chunks -- or shred it up -- and add to 4 cups of boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar and let it cool to room temperature before removing the beets (the only warning here is, if you leave this mixture long enough, it will likely turn red). Another alternative is a big handful of raspberries.

Lavender/purple: Mix 1 cup of grape juice and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. You could also use red onion skins or a bag of red zinger tea (one bag per cup of water), or wine for a richer hue. Beets, cranberries, blackberries and blueberries work, as well.


These suggestions and recipes work the most effectively when you’re using a dozen or so eggs that are preferably white, if you’re aiming for bright, clear colors. Brown or off-white eggs are fine too, you’ll just have to keep in mind that the colors will turn out differently.

The Kitchn recommends using room-temperature eggs that aren’t super fresh. The rule is, you typically need one tablespoon of white vinegar per cup of strained dye liquid.

When a recipe says to simmer the liquid, that means for about 15 to 30 minutes. The dye is ready when it reaches a hue a few shades darker than you want your eggs. Drip some dye onto a white dish if you’d like to test the color. When the dye is as dark as you’d like, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool to room temperature, which takes about 20 minutes, The Kitchn said.

The site recommends pouring the cooled dye through a fine-mesh strainer into another saucepan and then stirring the vinegar into the dye.

You’ll also want to make sure your eggs are fully submerged, for the best results.

Move the eggs while still sitting in the dye to the refrigerator and chill them until they’re the color you’d like. Carefully dry the eggs, and then rub each with a little oil, such as grapeseed or vegetable oil. Polish with a paper towel and then they should be ready to store.

Err on the side of more material rather than less when creating your dye.

It’s important to stay patient, as this process takes significantly longer than using synthetic dye. But you can break it into steps and get your kids involved -- make it fun! Spread it out over several hours or days.

Also, keep in mind, these are just recommendations.

It might be fun to test out other food items or spices you have sitting around the house. If it stains your fingers or cutting board, chances are good it will stain eggshells nicely, too, said Rodale’s Organic Life.

One last thing: Martha Stewart -- well, marthastewart.com -- said natural dyes can sometimes produce unexpected results, so don't be surprised if something turns out crazy-looking. Inside the link, listed above, you can read Stewart’s suggestions for achieving certain colors and the techniques she uses in order to get there.

And an easy guide for reference -- built compiling multiple suggestions -- is below. But above all else, get creative and start experimenting. These are just Easter eggs, so you can’t really go wrong.


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