From: Fieldnotes from Fatherhood
To help make your and your family’s Easter a little bit greener, we wanted to share this awesomely creative and eco-friendly idea for dying eggs this weekend. Using natural dyes is a great alternative to using the store-bought dye tablets or powders, and the project of natural egg-dying itself is a very sustainable one (zero artificial chemicals and zero waste!). We encourage you all to use fresh, organic, cage-free eggs for dying (and eating!) and organic produce as well to make your homemade Easter egg dyes (head to your local farmer’s market to buy all of your ingredients, if you can!). Next, embark outdoors to pick some wildflowers and any other foliage that is small enough to fit on the surface of an eggshell— the more “defined” your flowers and leaves are, the better (think daisy versus dandelion… Plus, the honeybees need the dandelions!). You will also need an old pair of pantyhose (you’ll see…).
Here’s what your Easter eggs will end up looking like:
And here’s how to do it!
First, prepare your all-natural dyes. Fill a number of pots with just enough water to cover your eggs, then add your fresh ingredients (a.k.a. your groceries).
Here’s a color-key for which natural foods will yield which colors of the rainbow:
- Onion skins will give you a rich rust-brown color, redder if you use a combination of yellow and red onions.
- Red cabbage produces a grayish-blue color.
- Turmeric powder give a deep orange-yellow. Add about 4 tablespoons per pot.
- Beets will make your eggs a light red/pink.
- Spinach, as you may have guessed, produces green eggs! The more spinach you add to your water, the darker the color.
Don’t hesitate to experiment! Try green apple peels, fruit teas, orange or lemon peels, frozen berries, etc.
Boil your ingredients in covered pots for about 30 minutes, then set aside and allow to cool. When fully cool, strain the different colored liquids into bowls (be sure to press the liquid out of the solids), and then return the liquids to their original, rinsed pots. Compost the solids!
Now for the dying and decorating process (you may need to step in and help the kiddos with the first pantyhose part):
- Take some old pantyhose and cut them into 4-inch strips.
- Place your leaves and flowers one by one on an egg (some things stick better if you dip them in water first).
- Take a strip of pantyhose, place the egg on it, then pull the hose around the surface of the egg tightly, making sure everything is still in place, and secure it with a twist tie or a piece of string, trimming off excess hose. Do this for all of your eggs.
- Bring your dyes (which have already been strained and returned to their original, rinsed pots) to a gentle boil, and add 3-4 tablespoons of vinegar to each one.
- Gently lower your eggs into whichever color you want (careful, the dyes will be hot!) and making sure that the dye covers each egg completely. If not, add just enough water to do so.
- Boil eggs for about 30 minutes, then set aside to cool. The longer you leave the eggs in their dyes, the deeper the colors will be!
- Remove the eggs carefully from the dyes, undo the ties, and let the kids slip the pantyhose, flowers, and leaves off the eggs. If you want the eggs to be shiny, take a paper towel with a bit of olive oil (or coconut oil, or whatever healthy oil you have on hand) on it and gently rub each egg.
You’re done! And now you’ve got really cool, eco-friendly Easter eggs to hide, put on display, and eat! You’ve also taught your kids that you can do amazing projects just by going out and finding things in nature, and that not everything – in this case the dyes – has to come from the store!