Ostara: Natural Egg Dyes

There are two methods for producing beautifully colored Ostara eggs at home with natural plant dyes. Fresh, frozen, or canned produce may be used, as well as spices, tea and coffee, and flower buds and petals. The first method is the hot boiling method, in which you can boil the eggs and dye them in one step.

Eggs dyed using the hot boiling method may be more suitable for decorative use only, as some foods used for their colorings (example, cherries and onions) may impart their flavors into the eggs. Some foods and spices will not release their colorings into the eggs unless the hot boiling method is used, and those are noted below in parentheses. Generally speaking, the hot boiling method will produce more vibrant colors, and the finished eggs can be rubbed with vegetable oil for a shiny look. The second method is the cold dipping method, in which the eggs are boiled and refrigerated ahead of time before dying. The cold dipping method will produce much paler shades, but is not as likely to alter the flavor of the eggs. For fun, try a batik effect by wrapping twine or rubberbands around the eggs before dipping. A plant sprig secured to the egg by wrapping a nylon stocking around will produce a beautiful design for hot boiled eggs.

Materials that can be used as dyes:

Purple/Lavender – Purple grape juice or grape juice concentrate
Hibiscus tea
Violet blossoms (add two teaspoons lemon juice)

Violet Blue – Violet blossoms
Small quantity red onion skins (hot boiling method)

Blue – Canned blueberries
Red cabbage leaves (hot boiling method)

Green – Spinach leaves (hot boiling method)
Liquid chlorophyll
Lavender buds

Green Yellow – Yellow Delicious apple peels (hot boiling method)

Yellow – Orange or lemon peels
Carrot tops (hot boiling method)
Celery seed (hot boiling method)
Ground cumin (hot boiling method)
Ground tumeric (hot boiling method)
Calendula petals

Brown – Strong brewed coffee
Instant coffee
Black walnut shells (hot boiling method)

Orange – Yellow onion skins (hot boiling method)

Pink – Beets or juice from pickled beets
Cranberries or cranberry juice
Red grape juice

Red – Large quantity red onion skins (hot boiling method)
Canned cherries

The methods:

Hot Boiling Method

1) Place the raw eggs in a single layer in a pan. (To avoid shell cracking, you can poke a small hole in the broad end of each egg with a safety pin.) Add water to cover.
2) Add approximately one teaspoon vinegar.
3) Add the material being used for the dye. (Use more material for more eggs or a more intense color.)
4) Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
5) If the desired color has been achieved, remove the eggs from the liquid. If a more intense color is desired, temporarily remove the eggs from the liquid, strain the dye material through a coffe filter, cover the eggs with the remaining filtered dye and allow them to remain in the refrigerator overnight.
*Note: When using juices as the dye material, the eggs may be simmered directly in the juice, do not add water.

Cold Dipping Method

1) Boil and refrigerate the desired amount of eggs.
2) Place 4 cups fruit or vegetable material, or one tablespoon spice in a pot with 2 tablespoons vinegar. Add just enough water to cover.
3) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-30 minutes.
4) Strain and allow to cool to slightly warmer than room temperature.
5) Dip eggs for 5-10 minutes, rotating vigorously. For deeper shades, allow eggs to soak overnight.

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