Easter eggs the natural way

Go natural this year to have beautiful Easter eggs.

Did you ever wonder how people colored Eastereaster eggs eggs before those color tablets were invented for egg kits?  Nature was relied on to color a variety of things, including eggs. Why not try coloring eggs with natural ingredients as a family activity this year?        

The earliest dyes came from nature: Yellow onion skins or hickory bark for yellow, madder root or Brazil wood for red, walnut shells or coffee for brown and barks, berries and leaves of other plants for a multitude of colors. Because nature provides such an abundant variety of raw materials, natural dyeing is an art, not a precise science. Michigan State University Extension offers the following tips to help you when using natural ingredients while dyeing eggs.

  • Start with hard-cooked eggs.
  • Choose a dyestuff. Just a few possible dyestuffs for eggshells are listed below. Use your own judgment about quantity and start by placing two or three handfuls of a dyestuff in a saucepan.
  • Add tap water to come at least an inch above the dyestuff and bring it to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer about 15 minutes or up to an hour until the color is the shade you desire, keeping in mind that eggs will dye a lighter shade than what it appears to be.
  • Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Using cheesecloth or a fine sieve, strain the dye mixture into a small bowl that is deep enough to completely cover the eggs to be dyed.
  • Add one tablespoon of white vinegar for each cup of liquid.
  • With a spoon or wire egg holder lower the eggs into the hot liquid and let them stand until they reach the desired color.
  • With a slotted spoon or wire egg holder, remove the eggs to a drainer. Allow the eggs to dry thoroughly.
  • Naturally dyed eggs tend to have a duller finish than commercially dyed eggs. For a soft sheen, after drying, rub with cooking or mineral oil.
Dyestuff Color
Fresh beets, cranberries, radishes or frozen raspberries Pinkish red
Yellow onion skins Orange
Orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed or ground cumin Delicate yellow
Ground turmeric Yellow
Spinach leaves Pale yellow
Yellow Delicious apple peels Green-gold
Canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves Blue
Strong brewed coffee Beige to brown
Dill seeds Brown-gold
Chili powder Brown-orange
Purple or red grape juice, or beet juice Grey

If you hide Easter eggs inside or outside make sure that they haven’t been out at room temperature for more than two hours. Also make sure that they are thoroughly scrubbed with a vegetable brush or a clean cloth under running water before cracking them open.

Hard-cooked eggs in the shell will last up to one week when they are properly refrigerated. To learn more about handling your eggs safely visit the consumer information about egg safety from the Food & Drug Administration.

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