When my children were little, we colored eggs for Easter with dyes from a store bought egg coloring kit. Little disks of dried food coloring were dropped into a vinegar and water solution then hard boiled eggs were lowered into the cup with little wire holder. It all sounds so sweet and easy. Well, it was, until it came time to clean up. Stained hands, tables, chairs, dishtowels, and carpet. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit this, but we were the generation that invented kitchen carpet! Thankfully, kitchen carpet did not survive the 70's, but the egg dyes have. They are considered safe, so use 'em if you've got 'em. My kid's kids are too old for Easter egg hunts now. Maybe it's just nostalgia or possibly quarantine fever, but I wanted some colored eggs for a centerpiece this year. My (How-To) Food-Safe Easter Egg Dye came about as I looked around my kitchen for food items I could use to dye a dozen duck eggs. I probably made as big a mess as my kids made with the dye kits, but my dyes cleaned up easier.
- Look around the house for brightly colored food items.
- Fresh beets, golden or red
- Purple cabbage
- Maraschino cherry juice
- Purple sweet potatoes
- Jarred or canned beets
- Espresso powder
- Loose tea
- Hard boil the eggs in water and allow them to dry completely in the refrigerator.
- Boil vegetables in small amounts of water to extract the colored juices. Keep the amount of water to a minimum to concentrate the color. Stain the juice off into small jars with lids and refrigerate immediately.
- If the color is not to your liking, pour a little bit off and add a dash of white vinegar. With many foods, this will drastically change the color of the liquid. If you like the color, you can add vinegar to the jar. If not, your original color is still there.
- Experiment with mixing two colors together to create another color. Adding a tiny bit of turmeric to any color creates some great new ones. Be careful not to add too much or you will end up with all golden eggs!
- Add a boiled egg to each jar of dye and refrigerate until the color is absorbed to your liking. Many of mine took overnight to achieve even a slight color change. When this happened, I mixed colors and tried again.
- Depending on the freshness of your boiled eggs, they may want to float with one end slightly above the liquid. When this happened, I weighed the egg down with some of the boiled vegetable used to make the dye, which resulted in some cool mottled effects.
- Green was the most difficult color to make! I used parsley, mint, basil without much luck. I finally cooked a little spinach, wrapped it around an egg and refrigerated overnight. I got a nice pale green color.
- Add spots and mottling by adding colored spices, loose tea, and espresso to the colored eggs! Stand the egg up in small dish and mist with water. Sprinkle on the spice or tea. Let it stand in the refrigerator and completely dry. You can even lightly spritz again after the spotting starts, causing drips and runs down the egg. I refrigerated some eggs overnight to leach more of the spice color out and onto the egg.
- Avoid handling the eggs after dyeing as the food dyes tend to rub off fairly easily.
- Play around. Have fun. Always keep safety in mind. Boiled eggs spoil easily when not refrigerated. If the eggs are going to be eaten, always refrigerate right way after completing a step in the process. Mine were to be used as a centerpiece and not to be eaten, so I took a bit more liberty.
- Can You Eat Dyed Easter Eggs? by Good Housekeeping has some great tips for keeping egg coloring safe.
Whenever possible, use the food you boil rather than waste it. We had purple sweet potato puree with dinner one night. I ate a lot of beets, both jarred pickle beets and boiled beets. I admit to eating an entire jar of Bad Bing Cherries myself after using the juice. I added sugar to the cooked blueberries and made a compote which will be perfect for my Cheese Danish with Refrigerated Dough!
Try my Food-Safe Easter Egg Dye (How-To)! Happy Spring!