Growing up, I loved Easter for the delight in waking up to discover colourful eggs hidden throughout our house. Some were easy to find, while others required the combined efforts of my siblings to scope out every nook and cranny where one could be hidden. My parents were so clever at hiding eggs that we would still discover them throughout the year. It was always a prize to find an egg long after Easter had come and gone.
Besides hunting for eggs, one of my favourite activities was dyeing and decorating Easter eggs. There were so many brilliant colours and every egg looked different after bathing in the colourful jars. The bonus was that we got to eat our decorated eggs and sometimes even had the colourful treats in our lunch at school.
Dyeing eggs is great fun but it’s best to avoid all the chemical dyes and make your own with food scraps. You’ll feel like a magical alchemist brewing up your own colourful dyes. And you’ll put your food scraps to good use.
Food Scrap Dyes
Each of our dye recipes makes about 2 cups, which is ample for dyeing multiple eggs. Dyeing eggs with natural dyes does take a little bit longer than chemical dyes. Allow hard-boiled eggs to bathe in the dye for a couple of hours or overnight for more vibrant colours. And of course, allow them to soak up the colour in the refrigerator.
Reddish-Brown Dye: Leaving the skins and stem on, roast 4 small beets. Once cool, remove the skins and stems and place them in a saucepan. Enjoy the roasted beets – perhaps in a delicious salad with goat cheese and greens or as a sidedish with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of black pepper. Now, let’s make the dye. Add 2 cups of water to the saucepan with the beet skins and stems. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 20-30 minutes. Let cool. Remove beet scraps and compost them. Stir in 1 tbsp white vinegar and start dyeing eggs!
Orange Dye: In a saucepan, combine the outer papery skins of 3 small yellow onions with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 20-30 minutes. Let cool. Remove skins and compost them. Stir in 1 tbsp white vinegar to the coloured water.
Yellow Dye: In a saucepan, combine 2 tsp turmeric with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes whisking in the turmeric. Stir in 1 tbsp white vinegar. This mixture will separate as it sits, so give it a stir whenever you remember or when you check on your eggs while they are bathing.
Green Dye: I tried a few different options for green dye without much colourful luck. In the end, I found that I got the best colour from combining equal amounts of blue dye and yellow dye to create a nice pastel green.
Blue Dye: In a saucepan, combine 1 cup chopped purple cabbage, about 2-3 outer leaves, with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 20-30 minutes. Let cool. Remove cabbage and compost. Add 1 tbsp white vinegar. This dye is fun because it appears reddish-purple, but creates gorgeous blue coloured eggs.
Don’t forget to eat your Easter egg creations. A hard-boiled egg makes a healthy snack or tasty protein addition to breakfast or lunch. So, add some colourful eggs to your breakfast, lunch and snacks this week.