This spring try coloring Easter eggs using natural dyes made from edible ingredients. You can make blue, orange, red, yellow, purple, green, and pink—all with ingredients like onions and cabbage! Get an adult to help you. You'll also need several hours to complete the project. Some eggs will need to sit in the dye overnight in the refrigerator to get the deepest colors.
What You Need:
Have an adult hard-boil the eggs for you. Bring water to a boil, add eggs, then continue to boil for about 10 minutes. Remove the eggs from the heat, and rinse them in cold water. Once you have cooked your eggs, you can dye them nearly any color you want! After you pull each egg out of the dye set it in an empty egg carton or on a wire rack to dry. Once each egg is completely dry, gently rub it with a little bit of oil (vegetable or safflower oil works well) on a towel to make it extra shiny!
Purple eggs: Thaw a container of concord grape juice concentrate. Pour enough concentrate to cover an egg completely into a bowl or mug. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Put your hard-boiled egg in, checking it every few minutes until it reaches the desired color.
Blue eggs: Have an adult slice one whole head of red cabbage and add it to a pot of boiling water. Cook the cabbage in boiling water for 20-30 minutes, until the water turns bright blue. To make marbled eggs, put some of the cooked cabbage in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Stir the cabbage and vinegar, then add the egg and wrap it in the cooked cabbage. Leave it for several hours, or even overnight! To make solid blue eggs, pour some of the blue cooking liquid into a mug or bowl, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (the liquid will change colors when you do this), and add an egg. You will need to leave the egg in for several hours to make a pastel blue egg, or for 24 hours to make a deep blue egg.
Green eggs: You will need 1 cup of fresh or frozen spinach, vinegar, and a medium-small cooking pot. Have an adult add the spinach to a pot of boiling water and cook for half an hour, until the water is yellow-green. Pour some of the colored liquid into a bowl, and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to make dye. If you leave the egg in for several hours, this will make a pale green color. To make a darker green, mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar with some of the cooked spinach in a bowl. Wrap the spinach around an egg, and leave for several hours.
Yellow Eggs: Fill a mug with enough water to completely cover an egg. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder. Add an egg, and leave it for about one hour to turn it bright yellow! You could also try using blue dye (from red cabbage) with turmeric powder added to make a greenish-yellow egg.
Orange and red eggs: Add the skins (just the papery top layers) of 3-4 yellow onions to a pot of boiling water, and cook for 30 minutes. Drain the liquid into a bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar. For orange eggs let them sit in the dye for up to 3 hours. For red eggs, let them sit in the dye all day, or even overnight!
Pink eggs: You can make a vivid pink dye by using beets. Boil sliced beets (fresh or frozen) in a pot of water for about 30 minutes, or until the water is bright pink. Pour some of the pink water into a mug, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and dip your eggs into the dye, leaving them for up to an hour.
Try some of these ideas to make your natural dyes egg-stra special:
Keep experimenting! You can try boiling your eggs at the same time as you are cooking the vegetables or fruit. Use pomegranate juice instead of water for pinkish-brown eggs. Use apple peels for yellow or green eggs. Use blueberries for blue eggs. What else can you think of to use as a natural dye? Try it out!
Have you ever eaten fresh berries and stained your fingers? The pigments that give vegetables and fruits their color can be used to make dye! When the vegetable is boiled, the pigments escape into the water and make a kind of dye. Vinegar is a natural preservative. Adding vinegar to the dye helps the color stay looking bright.
Why does red cabbage dye eggs blue? Even though the cabbage looks purple, the pigments that came out into the water were blue. Red cabbage contains a pigment called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin actually changes color when you mix it with a strong acid (such as vinegar), which is why the dye looked reddish before you put the egg in. It still dyed eggs blue, because the shell does not have any strong acid in it.
What makes some eggs light colored and some dark colored depends on two things: how strong the dye is, and how long you leave the egg in the dye. We use the word concentration when talking about how strong liquid is. Strong tea is very concentrated, while weak tea is diluted (or made weaker by adding liquid). If you make two cups of tea, one weak and one strong, they both have the same amount of water, but they have different amounts of flavor. For natural Easter egg dyes, we're talking about the concentration of color - is it strong or weak? A dye that looks light-colored will make a light-colored egg, no matter how long you leave it in the dye. The onion skin dye can make either orange or red eggs. When you leave the egg in for a short time, it comes out looking orange. That is because the pigments from the dye have started to stick to the egg, but not completely. When the egg is covered in many pigments, it turns red.