The history of Easter Eggs is a long one. The egg is a symbol of rebirth and new life. Spring is the time of rebirth – all of those plants that were sleeping underground are awakened and begin to grow, marking the beginning of a new growing season. With Easter falling in spring, eggs and Easter have a natural association.
Most natural dyes are used on eggs that have already been hard cooked, but some dyes will have more intense color if the eggs are cooked right in the liquid as it is extracting the dye (most herbal dyes use this method). Remember that natural dyes will take longer for deeper color.
Large Hard-Boiled Eggs
Knee High Stockings
Small Rubber Bands
Plant Cuttings-leaves that have defined or narrow edges work better than large rounded leaves or flowers. We used curry, palm, cranesbill, and rosemary.
Fine Sieve or Cheese Cloth
Glass Pint Canning Jars
We recommend a two-day process, unless you are cooking and dying them at the same time (herbs). The first day hard-boil your eggs. Next day, make your dyes, and let them cool. Start the dying process.
Meanwhile get your plant cuttings and position them on the eggs. Cut your nylon pieces about 5 inches long, and open them up. Place over the egg and positioned leaf, flower etc., then stretch tightly over and rubber band
tightly. Wrap them with your nylons and rubber band them tightly. Now you are ready to start the dying process.
It is important that you let the dyed eggs dry completely. We were able to blot them a little bit with a paper towel to speed up the drying process.
When mixing up dyes, be sure to add the vinegar if the recipe calls for it as it is a mordant, meaning that it sets the color. If you have tall narrow containers, like pint canning jars or glasses, put the dyes in these so the egg will be fully covered with the dye. Lower eggs into dye and leave there until the desired color is attained. Remove egg from dye and let it dry completely. When the egg is dry, and if the color isn’t intense enough, put it back into the same dye to sit awhile longer.
NATURAL EGG DYE RECIPES
Here are some ideas for dye colors. Remember as you are doing this that it is easiest to make the primary colors!
Red dye: Put 2 cups shredded beets, 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture and place the juice in a glass container. Cool completely before using.
Pink dye: Use canned or frozen cherries, and/or crushed cranberries.
Blue dye: shred red cabbage, cover with water and boil for several minutes. Add 1-tablespoon vinegar and set aside. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and into a glass container. Cool completely before using.
Yellow dye: Mix 2 tablespoons turmeric in 3 cups warm water, stir well and add 1 tablespoon vinegar. Strain the mixture into a glass container. Cool completely before using. Light yellow is made using lemon and orange peels, green tea or ground cumin.
Orange dye: Mix 1 tablespoon chili powder with 3 cups warm water, stir well and add 1 tablespoon vinegar.
Green dye: Dip egg in yellow dye, dry it and then put it in the blue dye. Light green is made using 2-cups of packed spinach.
Purple dye: Dip egg in blue dye, dry it and then put it in red dye.
Tan or beige dye: Use a strong coffee or tea.
DYING EGGS WITH HERBS
With herbs, it is suggested to cook the egg right in the water-herb mixture. We suggest you bring 2 pots to boiling – one with the herb mixture, and one for hard-boiling the eggs. After the eggs have been in the simmering water for 5 to 7 minutes, they can be removed and put into the kettle with the simmering water-herb mixture to finish its total of 15 minutes of simmering time.
For herbal dying you will need one-quart water, two tablespoons white distilled vinegar and the herb chosen.
Red/brown: elderberries or dandelion root
Blue: 1/2-cup red hibiscus flowers
Yellow: 1-tablespoon turmeric, or 1 cup dried marigold flowers, or 1 cup dried goldenrod or 1 cup chamomile flowers
Orange: 2 tablespoons paprika
Green: 1 cup of any of the following – fresh parsley, spinach, sorrel, basil or rosemary, or 1/2 cup coltsfoot
Brown: 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon