Colored Eggs for Everyone! Naturally.

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!

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Comments (23)

  • apuginthekitchen 11 years ago Reply

    Beautiful eggs, it’s funny there was an article on food52 today about natural egg dyes. Very nice post!

    azita 11 years ago Reply

    It’s that time of year!

  • Fae's Twist & Tango 11 years ago Reply

    Cute, cute, cute!!! Some clever tricks you have introduced here. I used to color eggs with my son when he was a kid, using yukky stuff. I was not aware of all these better options. I appreciate your artwork, and presentation style! Lovely post!

    azita 11 years ago Reply

    What yukky stuff? Now I really want to know! ps thank you!

    Fae's Twist & Tango 11 years ago

    Since you want to know…
    – The kit came with packets of oil and color powders, a circular wire with handle and cardboard that had egg-size holes to rest the eggs to dry. First you constructed the cardboard. Then you empty the oil and dissolve the colors in water in disposable cups. Placing the egg in the wire, you dipped the eggs in the oil first and then into cups with dissolved colors. You end up with colored, oily eggs which the oil never fully dries.
    – Then they came up with decorative cellophane sleeves for the eggs which you dipped your egg with it in boiling water. Only one or two in ten will stick nicely. Covered with a thick film, it was very hard to break the eggs to eat.
    – After a few years of this, we decided to stick small stickers all around the egg or draw on it with special felt pens.

    azita 11 years ago

    oh I get now, those methods leave a lot to desire and nothing more frustrating than delving into a project and ending up with disappointing results. Thank you for letting me know!! You are a doll.

  • tableofcolors 11 years ago Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! I’ll have to give them a try next year if tomorrow gets too busy 🙂 you’re eggs turned out beautiful!

    azita 11 years ago Reply

    Thank you! My pleasure. There’s something really so very nice about coloring them this way so I do recommend it when you have the time. Happy Easter!

  • johnnysenough hepburn 11 years ago Reply

    As kids growing up we used to dye white eggs with the flowers of a Whin or Gorse bush, that grew wild in the hedgerows on the farm. That always worked. Can’t for the life of me remember any others. Blueberries are especially good for dying the tongue, lips and hands of kids out hunting the hedges for wild bilberries, as we called them, during August. We could also find tiny wild strawberries as well. So delish!

  • Lizzy (Good Things) 11 years ago Reply

    You’ve reminded me of how my mother used to colour eggs. Such a lovely post. Happy Easter xo

    azita 11 years ago Reply

    Aww, thank you Lizzy! Happy Easter

  • I tried to pick up a cabbage yesterday so that I could try this but the store was out — so I bought the paas color dyes. 🙁 maybe next year. I will bookmark your post!

    azita 11 years ago Reply

    I’m not the spokesperson for red cabbages but I’ll urge you to try this with your girls on a rainy day. Leaving eggs in the cabbage dye overnight and seeing their color the next day is just … fun!

  • laurasmess 11 years ago Reply

    Gorgeous, gorgeous post! I’ve never made coloured eggs, but the beautiful muted shades from the natural dyes you’ve used would make me want to have them around as decoration all year! Happy Easter lovely. I’m definitely going to try this idea sometime x

    azita 11 years ago Reply

    Thank you,thank you Laura! Oh you know, you’re right, I am going to keep them around for a good while because they do make a nice decor. Happy Easter!

  • chef mimi 11 years ago Reply

    So beautiful! I love the natural colors, but still so vivid.

  • azita 11 years ago Reply

    Thank you! I nod head vigorously that the color palette is quite nice. I think that’s why I’m truly a convert now – no more artificial coloring for moi when it comes to eggs. It’s worth the effort.

  • […] ps.  I beg for a stay of execution so that I can post the directions for how to dye eggs with vegetables and other natural household ingredients to Fig & Quince.  Edited to add:  it’s done! […]

  • Tina 11 years ago Reply

    Cleaver! I’ll try this next year. Thanks Azita

    azita 11 years ago Reply

    my pleasure Tina!

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