Last year when coloring eggs for the Norooz haftseen, I pledged to make homemade dye next time around. Before I knew it a year went by (wow so quickly like WOOSH) and it was once again time to color eggs for Norooz. And, guess what, I actually kept my vow to make natural dye at home.
It is possible that in the process I may have gone a bit overboard … behaved a tad over zealously even … felt somewhat excessively exuberant (please note that I did restrain from saying eggsessively eggzuberant) … but that’s because making dye was an interesting experience, dare I say thrilling at times, and the eggs came out so pretty that I couldn’t help but geek out and admire them this way and that. [Although one crack, and boo: they stink!] Next year, maybe I’ll throw an egg decorating party like the one design sponge had.
Thick rubber bands and colorful mesh bags (souvenirs of various produce-purchases saved over the course of time) played a key role in this fun game of egg-and-dye.
It is not hard to dye eggs naturally but unless you already know how to do it, the instructions online are a little hither and thither. I started with and ultimately ended up back with Martha (Stewart that is, of course) and after some practice in the trenches on the home-front I can lay claim to some firm preferences and a fair amount of eggspertise (please do forgive me, I truly can not help myself) when it comes to coloring eggs with natural dye.
I experimented with four dyeing agents (black coffee, red cabbage, beets, and turmeric) and colored two dozen eggs — a mixture of white and brown ones.
Ideally, you’ll also need an egg drying rack. I re-made the same egg-drying-rack that I’d improvised out-of-necessity last year. It worked beautifully, so saw no reason to reinvent the wheel. If you’d like to make one of your own, it’s super simple: a) Take a cardboard box, b) stick 3 push pins on the surface so as to create a triangular rest-stand for an egg, and c) taking care to space out the stands, repeat to create rows and columns. See? Easy!
I’ll ask you to kindly mosey on over to the original post on Martha Stewart’s site for the full, detailed instructions on how to make various dyes and create a palette of hues using each individually or in combination with each other.
Meanwhile, if you’d like summarized instructions as well as my two shiny cents gained from the trial and error and beauty of it all, please
I basically followed Martha’s instructions to the letter but there’s an essential tip not mentioned in the post: to add a tablespoon of salt to the dyeing agent. It makes all the difference in the world and I only found out about it from reading the comments section after a failed attempt. It’s a mystery why this pivotal info is omitted in the instructions.
Thoughts re the dyeing agents:
- Turmeric: The resulting yellow color is quite pretty but I found out that when boiling turmeric, especially with vinegar, that the aroma is quite pungent and irritant, at least to this nose. I sneezed quite a bit (a lot!) while this potion was brewing and wonder what the neighbors thought I was cooking up. Another drawback about turmeric as a dyeing agent: despite repeated straining, I was unable to fully rid dye of the powdery turmeric remnants which then clung to the egg and prevented it from having a smooth surface. I guess that won’t be a problem with a cheesecloth but I didn’t have one handy at the time.
- Coffee: I did not have the best of luck with it and found it a bit tame and lame as a dye. I expected rich hues and instead it made the brown eggs a tad-bit-darker brown and turned the white eggs into a pale muddy brown. Verdict: not worth the hassle and using up delicious, delicious coffee that I could be drinking instead.
- Beets: Nice! You’ll get pale pretty pink eggs by soaking white eggs for 30 minutes in this solution. Drawback: it didn’t really do much for the brown eggs. At least not on my watch.
- Red-cabbage: I am in love! This dye is so perfect, I want to write it a sonnet. It is a versatile workhorse of a dye — as generously reliable as daffodils. If I had to take only one dyeing agent with me to a deserted island, it would be me and my little red-cabbage dye. Soak eggs in this dye for half an hour and it turns white ones a nice pale blue and the brown eggs a robin blue. Leave eggs overnight and wake up to a stunning and gorgeous miracle: white eggs are now a very rich and dark royal blue and brown eggs turn into an intense forest green hue, so dark as to pass for a stone! Can’t say enough good things about cabbage. In fact, if you are short on time and don’t want to mess around with too many different dyes, just go for the this dye and simply by using a mixture of both white and brown eggs and playing with the the length of time you leave the eggs soaking, you’ll end up with a gorgeous palette of pale to the darkest midnight blue. Love, love, love it!
- Onion skins: The thought of cutting up enough onions to gather 4 cups of onion skins made me cry and I gave up on this dye without even giving it a try.
Happy Norooz & Easter & Passover & spring. Have fun coloring eggs!