Whether looking to limit your purchases or reduce the amount of chemicals in your home and around your food, making your own natural dyes for eggs at home is easy, economical, fun, and great for the environment!
What you need:
one or more of the following:
yellow onion skins
red beets (or their trimmings)
red cabbage (or just outer leaves and trimmings)
cooking pot (not aluminum or copper)
separate containers for different color dyes
cheesecloth & string
The Big Ideas:
Using onion skins and vegetable trimmings is very economical. Further, they can be composted after your dyeing project. And the eggshells can be composted after the eggs are eaten, too.
The more vegetable content in the dye bath, and the longer their contact with the egg shells, the more intense the color.
Vinegar acts to dissolve the detergents and/or waxes that may be used to treat eggs for sale; it also will dissolve (slightly) the eggshell itself, helping the dye to penetrate. Further, it will change the color of the red cabbage dye to blue.
If the eggs become cracked during the dyeing process, they are still safe to eat!
Take the onion skins (the parts you normally discard) from 2 - 10 onions, put them in your pot and cover with enough water to dye the number of eggs you wish. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Discard the vegetation and cool the liquid. Add a tablespoon of vinegar; alternatively, wipe your hard-cooked eggs with vinegar to clean the shell, then rinse. Put the cooked eggs in the dye. That’s it! If they’re dipped briefly, they’ll be golden; longer contact time will yield a burnt orange, and even longer will give you a deep brown egg.
Use the same method if you’re using beets and/or red cabbage, but shred these vegetables first and simmer them at least 30 minutes. Also, their dyes are not as strong, so you’ll want to use more vegetable than water when cooking them, and increase the contact time. The beets will give you brownish-red, and the cabbage a pink or soft blue, if you add vinegar, which is recommended.
Throw the onion skins in with the eggs as you’re hard-boiling them. Remember about the contact time deepening color.
This is a good way to make tie-dyed eggs: shred the raw cabbage (or beet). Cut the cheesecloth into 8” squares. Put 2 - 3 tablespoons of the vegetable on the cheesecloth and put your raw egg on top. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth and push the vegetables so they surround the egg; tie the bundle with cotton string. Put the remaining vegetables in the pot along with the tied egg bundles, cover with water and a teaspoon of vinegar. Hard-boil your eggs as usual. Leave the cheesecloth bundles on your eggs as you cool them. Unwrap and enjoy the color surprises when you’re ready to serve them!