When I was a kid, every Easter I dunked hard-boiled eggs in coffee mugs filled with those fizzing tablets that instantly produced vibrant colors. It was the ’70s, or the better-living-through-chemistry decade, when no one questioned how chemicals affected our health. Today, even though the kits currently sold in stores proclaim to be nontoxic, many still contain synthetic food dyes that studies have linked to allergies and behavioral problems like ADHD in children.
Why not skip the kits with neon colors and glitter pens (they contain polyurethane) and go au naturel this spring? Using veggies, fruits, spices, tea, and coffee will produce a vivid array of hues from soft pastels to deep, earthy tones. Of course, creating dyes with organic produce and other foods will help you avoid pesticide residue, too. Keep in mind that kids used to eggs emerging from dyes brightly colored within seconds will have to be patient when coloring without chemicals. Explain that not only is this more eco method better for our bodies, it’s also healthier for the environment because you are not letting chemicals wash down the drain and enter our groundwater, rivers, and oceans.
Step 1. Fill a 2-quart pot with 1 quart of water and ¼ cup distilled white vinegar.
Step 2. To make each of these 6 colors, add the following foods to separate pots:
- Pink: 2 beets, shredded; 10 chopped blackberries; 2 Celestial Seasonings Wild Berry Zinger herbal tea bags
- Purple: 1 red cabbage, shredded; 1 beet, shredded; ½ cup grape juice; 2 Celestial Seasonings Wild Berry Zinger herbal tea bags
- Green: 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped; 2.5 oz spinach, chopped; 3 oz blueberries, slightly crushed; 1 tablespoon turmeric
- Gold: 3 tablespoons turmeric
- Orange-Yellow: 3 pinches of saffron
- Brown: 1 quart coffee (no need to use any water; just add the vinegar)
Step 3. Stir these ingredients together, then add uncooked white eggs (the brown ones do not take color well) to each pot, making sure the liquid covers them. Cover the pot, and bring to a boil.
Step 4. Turn off heat, and let sit in the hot water for 13 minutes. At this point, colors will be light, and if you prefer pastels, remove eggs with a slotted spoon and put them in egg cartons to dry. If you want darker shades, remove lid, and let the eggs sit in the pots for up to an hour. The eggs will overcook a bit but will taste just fine.
Easy Eco Egg-Dyeing Tips
- For a more kid-friendly approach to naturally dyeing eggs, place already hard-boiled eggs in the color mixtures after they have cooled. But to attain dark colors, you will need to let the eggs remain submerged overnight in bowls of dye that you refrigerate.
- Leave the food in the pot of dye to create interesting speckling and patterns, like leaf imprints from the chopped parsley.
- If you want to avoid those textures, remove the food from the pots with a slotted spoon or through a strainer.
- Hard-boiled eggs can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Compost all produce, coffee, and tea used to make dyes.
Show Off Your Creations to Win!
Try our egg-coloring recipes or experiment with other foods and color combos. Then post a picture of your naturally dyed eggs on our Facebook page. On Monday, April 1, we’ll pick the most colorful naturally dyed eggs and award the top artists one dozen eggs that we’ll deliver in their next order. Happy spring!