How to Dye Eggs Naturally
Last year I saw gorgeous pictures of naturally-dyed eggs all over the internet, so this spring I really wanted to try some of my own. The dyes are pretty cheap and simple, and for the most part seem to work surprisingly well. We don't really like to eat cold hard-boiled eggs, though, so one thing I wanted to figure out was how to dye eggs naturally without boiling them, which many of the natural dye recipes recommend. Luckily, that wasn't too hard, either.
- blue: purple cabbage
- red-brown: red onion skins
- golden: turmeric
- purple: beets
- green: combine blue and yellow
For all of the colors I used a quart of water with two tablespoons of vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. I boiled the water and the ingredients for about half an hour. For yellow, I used a quarter cup of turmeric. For blue, I used a whole chopped purple cabbage. For russet I used the skins and outer layers of four red onions. I also happened to have the juice from a jar of pickled beets, so instead of boiling anything I just used that for purple.
The yellow came out beautifully, and the blue and purple were pretty vibrant, too. Both the yellow and blue would have gotten darker if I had left them to soak longer, but soaking for an hour seemed long enough. By dipping some yellow eggs in blue dye for about a minute, I got a pretty good pale green that didn't come out very well in the picture, but I'm willing to vouch for it. The russet was ok, too, but in the future I wouldn't bother because it was about the same color as the naturally brown eggs we usually buy.
How to Dye Eggs
Prepare your eggs ahead of time. Wash the outsides and hard-boil them if you want, leave them raw to use later, or cut a hole in the bottom of each to drain out the raw egg and make empty shells - do wash inside, too, if using this method. After boiling the dyes, strain out the vegetable matter and add your eggs or shells right away if possible (the warm dye will not be enough to cook raw eggs). Leave for at least an hour, or overnight for the deepest colors. When you take the eggs out of the dye, gently pat them dry with a rag or paper towel.
Cascarones are colored eggshells stuffed with confetti, to be released when you crack the egg. This Mexican tradition has also inspired a type of natural, candy-filled egg, which is what we made here. I filled my empty eggshells with jellybeans, then glued trimmed mini-muffin cups over the holes as Not Martha recommends. It took me a few minutes to figure out the best gluing method (hint - dry them upside down unless you want your candy to stick to the glue) but in the end they were festive and very, very surprising to my kids, who have been pretending to hide candy-filled eggs ever since.