Dying eggs is an easy and fun activity to celebrate the beginning of spring! Most people associate colored eggs with Easter, but there is evidence the tradition was borrowed from a pagan celebration of spring that honored the return of the sun using dyes made from plants. Don’t miss out on this fun family spring activity.
We have tried a bunch of different styles, but the decorate and dip method has proven to give the most consistent results without being too complicated for little ones. We have found that our kids will engage with projects longer if they can work independently. So while the Pinterest perfect egg projects look amazing, they are not easy for families. We have used artificial dyes, but there is so much more learning that happens when we make our own dyes.
When you keep the process simple it allows for greater creativity. We use a handful of homemade natural dyes, white pastels or crayons and lots of hard boiled eggs. Everyone draw any pattern, words or designs on a hard boiled egg using a white pastel or crayon. Then, gently lower the egg into the dye and leave in refrigerator until it has reached the desired color. Once your egg has reached the desired color leave the eggs out to dry. Egg cartons are a great place to store eggs while they dry.
Our favorite dyes for eggs are: yellow onion skins, blueberries, turmeric, red cabbage & beets.
If you are looking to purchase natural dyes, we have loved the eco kids kit. We bought some from a local grocery store, but they are available online at ecokidsusa.com.
tips for making natural dyes
Like so many natural craft projects, each batch of dye comes out different. I could bore you with explanations about chemical reactions and plant pigmentations, and if you’re interested by all means reach out because I never say no to an excuse to nerd out over plants, but it basically comes down to natural variation. Honestly, that is part of the fun of making your own dye.
Choose quality ingredients
When choosing the ingredients for your dyes remember that the health and quality of the produce will effect the final dye so now is the time to be picky. Cabbage should be firm, crisp and bright. Onions should be firm, dry and golden. Beets should be firm and juicy. Blueberries should be pump, juicy and dark in color. Turmeric powder should be a deep yellow.
The general ratios I use for natural dyes are:
1 cup fresh produce for every cup of water
1 tablespoon dried herbs for every cup of water.
Dyes are prepared by heating the materials and water in a pot until it boils and letting it simmer for 30 minutes. Once you have a liquid that is a bit darker than the color you are looking for it is ready for use. Strain out any of the vegetables or herbs and add 1 teaspoon vinegar for every cup of dye.
This is never an exact measuring situation at our house because, well, the kids are involved. You can chop and measure if that makes your heart happy, but we eyeball it and have loved the results. If you want to experiment with preparation techniques, try shredding or grating the hard veggies before adding water. We have also made a concentrate by adding more produce and less water, to fit in the pot, and then added more water to dye with. The good news is this is a flexible process and you can have fun experimenting in your kitchen as a family.
We put our dyes into jars with lids so they can safely hangout in the fridge without sabotaging the tiny hands constantly looking for snacks. We have some mason jars, but usually end up also using some jars from our recycling stash. Once the eggs are in the jars in the fridge we leave them for about 2-10 hours depending on your desired outcome.
We have had fun mixing dyes and layering dyes. To mix dyes you add more than one dye into a jar and leave the egg in the jar. To layer dyes you move the egg from one jar of dye to another color of dye.
Storing dyed eggs
Once your eggs are dry you can rub them with oil to make them glisten like the sun, or not. It is best to store your eggs in the refrigerator until you are going to eat them. Hard boiled eggs are usually good for about 1 week in the refrigerator. Hard boiled eggs are a healthy and delicious snack, but if you are tired of plain eggs they are delicious on some toast with avocado, make an easy breakfast burrito and can even be substituted in chocolate chip cookies!