Photo: Homemade Easter egg and food dyes

Take an all-natural approach to dying Easter eggs (and treats!) using age-old methods to create plant-based dyes!

Take an all-natural approach to dying Easter eggs (and treats!) using age-old methods to create plant-based dyes! It's a fun, easy way to use up that last bit onion or wilted cabbage and unlike synthetic colours, these homemade dyes are free of health concerns.

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No matter the colour, the steps for homemade dyes are always the same (and you can download them here):*

1. Chop or grate fruits and vegetables
2. Combine with enough water to cover
3. Add one T of vinegar (as a fixative)
4. Boil 15 minutes,
5. Drain liquid; set aside solids for decorating effects
*Except spinach (see below)

Plant pigments for homemade dye

Half the fun of homemade dyes is experimenting. No two beets are identical, so no two will yield the same hues of red. Invite young ones into the kitchen and watch a love of plants and science take root!

RED/PINK: beets, cranberries or raspberries (fresh or frozen), red zinger tea
YELLOW/ORANGE: carrots, onion, turmeric or saffron
GREEN: spinach (don't boil; puree only), matcha powder, liquid chlorophyll
BLUE: blueberries (fresh or frozen)
PURPLE: red cabbage

Let pigment cool. Submerge a happy egg (i.e. free range and organic) for 15 minutes. The longer the egg sits in the dye, the more vibrant the colour.

Add patterns and texture to Easter eggs

1. Draw on an egg with wax (beeswax works well, as do crayons). Wash wax off after the pigment is fixed, to reveal the pattern beneath.
2. Wrap egg in elastic bands before submerging. The elastic blocks colour, leaving stripes. Dunking in a second colour yields fun results and a science lesson!
3. Place bits of solids used to make dyes on the egg (onion and beets work well) to leave dark marks and a tie-dyed effect.

Dye foods naturally, too

Something sweet and colourful is often on the menu at Easter. Make homemade plant-based food dyes using the same technique — minus vinegar — to add to celebratory treats. To be extra efficient, skip the vinegar when boiling egg dyes and reserve a couple tablespoons for your baking. Adding the vinegar after boiling instead of before will only marginally effect the vibrancy of the Easter eggs.

Send pictures of your plant-dyed efforts. I'll post my favourites!

Tovah Paglaro

Queen of Green

March 3, 2013

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Mar 08, 2013
11:27 AM

Must try this! Anything that’s better for my grandkids’ AND the environment is worth the extra work. :D I have some bright purple fermented veggies that stink but look pretty! LOL! Will use some to dye the eggs … maybe I’ll try it ahead of time. :D

Mar 07, 2013
2:59 PM

I can’t wait to try this with my nieces! I used to use crepe paper as well but I’m guessing those dyes weren’t very healthy. My sister used pomegranate juice from the fresh fruit to dye whipped cream for a fabulous cake.

Mar 06, 2013
8:42 AM

Love this!!!

Last year, my daughter’s Waldorf-school teacher asked for a pot full of the purple grapes that grew in our yard so she could dye some fabrics for the class!

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