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Posted on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 4:27 p.m.

Easter egg dyeing lessons

By Corinna Borden

Borden - Easter Eggs dyed with natural colors

My result when dyeing brown and green eggs with natural dyes.

Corinna Borden | Contributor

A couple of years ago I discovered the phenomena of dying Easter eggs with natural dyes: food, flowers, or spices. In honor of the bounty that flows freely from our coop every day - this seemed like a golden opportunity to experiment with using food items to change the color of our eggs.

The process is very easy. Take several eggs, cover them with water, add a teaspoon of white vinegar and add whatever colorant you want (turmeric, beets, black cherry juice, spinach, blueberries, chamomile tea, cranberries, red wine, etc.), bring the liquid to a boil and let the eggs cook gently for 10 minutes or so. If a stronger color is desired, then remove the eggs, strain the particles from the liquid and put the eggs back into the pot in the refrigerator overnight.

It sounded very reasonable. Yet once I started doing the deed, I experienced a series of both mental and practical hurdles.

Hurdle #1 - Our chickens lay green, blue and brown eggs and I refused on principal to go out and purchase white eggs.

Hurdle #2 - I wanted to experiment with blueberry juice, cranberry juice, carrot juice, chlorophyll and black cherry juice yet our stove has only four burners.

Hurdle #3 - I couldn’t help but wonder as I juiced the carrots down why I was using perfectly edible and delicious food to make dye for eggs. I opened up the freezer and poured out bouncy blueberries and cranberries lovingly harvested and frozen from my Locavorious CSA. I used almost a cup of black cherry juice.

I checked the color of the lightest brown eggs in the carrot juice - “Is that a change? Is it just the light? Are they any different?” - and wondered, why eggs?

When I was growing up, we would dye eggs using the little pellets in the bowls on the counter. On Easter morning my father, a.k.a. the Easter Bunny, would hide them in the back garden for us to find, and then we would head out for brunch at a fancy hotel in honor of my grandmother’s birthday. Then we would head to the Tidal Basin and admire the cherry blossoms in bloom. For the next week we would eat eggs for breakfast and have egg bumper car-esque competitions between the four of us to crack the shells.

Borden - Backyard eggs au natural

I find our eggs beautiful au naturale.

Corinna Borden | Contributor

The egg is a symbol of rebirth, and thus is a good stand in for the story of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. In Passover, the egg represents the ritual sacrifice at the Temple of Jerusalem. In the pre-Christian world the egg was a fertile symbol of the coming Spring and life about to burst forth from the warming earth.

Next year I am going to sidestep such hurdles. I will use food safe pens and draw on my already colorful eggs. I will use the stickers languishing in my wrapping paper box. I will celebrate the season without ending up with a collection of earth colored eggs.

Corinna works with the Westside Farmers Market and blogs about all things food related (though her book is about something completely different).



Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

The eggs might not be bright enough to excite little ones. But I find them perfectly lovely; they look like they were plucked out of a Tim Burton film.


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:17 p.m.

kool-aid also would stain eggs


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:16 p.m.

I'll stick with food coloring or chemicals. Much brighter colors.


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 7:10 p.m.

perhaps the next time you cook you should save the carrot "scraps" and freeze them for next years dye job, ditto for the other stuff, that way you are not using perfectly good food but stretching out the frugal bits. Of course veggie scraps, the turkey or chicken carcass and some water simmered for hours and then strained make good broth. If you have an ice chest start a veggie scrap bucket.


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 6:13 p.m.

I found this and thought it looked cool and do-able! Using silk ties to dye your eggs.


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

Both brown and red onion skins yield gorgeous dye for eggs! Just save the skins in the freezer until you have enough, then boil the skins in H20 with vinegar, and voila!