With Easter falling so close to Earth Day this year I decided to try dyeing some eggs using all natural dyes made from "kitchen" stuff instead of food coloring as I usually do. I've never bought those egg dyeing packets from the store, just a personal preference.
Somewhere at sometime I had read that using brown eggs to do this would make them really pretty, so I bought a dozen brown. I also had 2 ½ dozen white egg shells that I had already blown the egg out of so I could display the finished creations for years to come. Now all I needed to do is figure out what ingredients to use and how to do it. First call was to Ma'am. She remembered us trying it once, but in classic mother fashion she told me to "LOOK IT UP!" Time for an Internet search!
I came up with several different sites that used the same method of boiling the dye ingredients and a bit of vinegar with the eggs. Vegetable Gardener had some incredible looking pictures and I liked the thoroughness of About.com's list of ingredients. So I combined the two. I used carrots in one pot, beet roots and the red stems in another, the beet leaves in another and paprika in a fourth. My first frustration was the carrots, I don't think I used enough so the water barely changed colors - so I threw in some leftover coffee grounds instead.
My second frustration was the paleness of the color, which did nothing on the brown eggs and didn't look like the pictures on Vegetable Gardener at all. Time for more research.
I found Vintage Savoir Faire and was immediately excited. I knew there was no way I could let my toddler dye eggs as described on the other two sites, which took a lot of fun out of the process. I have wonderful memories of dyeing eggs with my brother and our little cousin, Michelle, at our grandmother's and I really wanted to share that experience with Justin. This blogger describes how to make cold dye so he could dunk the eggs like you would with food coloring made dye or the packaged dyes. SCORE! This time I used some frozen blueberries and beet puree and frozen spinach. I did not strain mine, I just boiled and whipped them up in the blender because I was determined to get deeper colors. I also made a combination cup half blueberry and half beet, then threw in a cup of strong cold coffee for a good mix. My kitchen floor was a disaster, but he had so much fun; and only broke one of the eggs with rough handling.
Experience is the best teacher when it is someone else's experience. Use fresh spinach. The frozen did nothing. But, I had lots leftover to make spinach dip for snack, so it wasn't a total loss. As far as the other ingredients, this time the results were much better! I just needed to make stronger dye and let the eggs soak longer (especially the brown eggs).
Finally, I tried wrapping onion skins around the eggs that didn't get dyed from the spinach as described on all three links. I cut up the net bag the onions came in and secured with a twist tie, but panty hose and cheese cloth will work equally well if you have them. All I can say is WOW! these lived up to the hype!
All in all, this was a fun experience and next year I will experiment with different ingredients. If you give it a try, please send me some pictures and let me know what worked and didn't work for you.
Until next time, happy eating!