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How to dye Easter eggs naturally

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: April 15, 2014
Naturally dyed Easter eggs.

Why buy egg dye when you can create beautiful dyes from botanicals?

Chris McLaughlin, author of the upcoming book A Garden to Dye For: How to Use Plants From the Garden to Create Natural Colors for Fabrics and Fibers (St. Lynn's Press), offers these instructions for naturally dyed Easter eggs.

McLaughlin teaches two methods: a hot bath, in which the eggs are colored as they're being hard-boiled, and a cold bath, which takes more time but produces more intense colors.

What you’ll need:

  • Non-reactive dye pots
  • Water
  • Stove (if you're using the hot method)
  • Glass jars or bowls (for the cold method)
  • Eggs
  • White vinegar
  • Dyestuff: onion skins, berries, turmeric, beets, red cabbage, etc. Caution: Don't use any plant materials that are considered poisonous. Use only what you know to be safe, edible plants, since the eggs will be eaten. 

Hot Dye Method: Simmer dyestuff in a pan of water for 15 minutes or so, and then strain so just the liquid remains in the pot. Add eggs to the pot and enough water so the eggs are covered by about 2 inches of water. Add 1/8 cup of vinegar, and then bring the pot to a boil and cook for 17-20 minutes.

Cold Dye Method: Simmer dyestuff in a pot of water for 20-25 minutes. Strain off the solids, add 1/8 cup of vinegar, and let the liquid cool in jars. Once the dye is cool, dip hard-boiled egg into the dye and leave them there for at least an hour. For the most impressive colors, leave them in the dye up to 10 hours. Caution: If you decide to let your hard-boiled eggs sit in a dye for longer than two hours, they need to be refrigerated for safety.

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