Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs

   Posted by: anj68   in Hints, history, kids

This is a re-release of an earlier story on making natural dyes for Easter eggs. Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

History of “Easter” eggs:
The ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the Spring equinox. The Nawrooz tradition has existed for at least 2,500 years. The sculptures on the walls of Persepolis show people carrying eggs for Nowrooz to the king. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

At the Jewish Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes the festival sacrifice offered at the Temple in Jerusalem.

There are good grounds for the association between hares (later termed Easter bunnies) and eggs, through folklore confusion between hares’ forms (where they raise their young) and plovers’ nests.

The Legend(s) how the Eggs Became a Christian symbol:
While the origin of Easter eggs can be explained in the symbolic terms described above, a pious legend among followers of Eastern Christianity says that Mary Magdalene was bringing cooked eggs to share with the other women at the tomb of Jesus, and the eggs in her basket miraculously turned brilliant red when she saw the risen Christ.

A different, but not necessarily conflicting legend concerns Mary Magdalene’s efforts to spread the Gospel. According to this tradition, after the Ascension of Jesus, Mary went to the Emperor of Rome and greeted him with “Christ has risen,” whereupon he pointed to an egg on his table and stated, “Christ has no more risen than that egg is red.” After making this statement it is said the egg immediately turned blood red.

The egg is seen, by followers of Christ, as symbolic of the grave and life renewed or resurrected by breaking out of it. The red supposedly symbolizes the blood of Christ redeeming the world and human redemption through the blood shed in the sacrifice of the crucifixion. The egg itself is a symbol of resurrection: while being dormant it contains a new life sealed within it.  (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Getting right to it:
Easter eggs have become a long standing traditional in Europe and America.  The Slavic cultures would create meticulously decorated eggs that were a thing of beauty with complex line patterns, geometric patterns, and deep, yet bright, colors.   American have adopted a more commercial decorating with store bought kits that are child-friendly.

Has we move back to the old ways and more eco-friendly traditions, many families are looking for natural dyes to color their eggs this season.  Below are some suggestions and hints on how to color  your eggs using natural, homemade dyes.

Natural Dyes for Eggs (Courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune):
Dyes required a significant about of ingredient to create a richer color. For spices, use 2 tablespoons or more per 4 to 6 cups of water. For solid food, use 4 cups or more of chopped up ingredients (beets, red cabbage and the like).

Pink/red: fresh beets, pickled beet juice, cranberries, frozen raspberries, red wine, red onion skins

Tan: yellow onion skins, green tea

Deep yellow: ground turmeric, curry powder, ground cumin

Orange: paprika, chili powder

Purple: hibiscus tea leaves, cranberry juice

Blue: canned blueberries, red cabbage leaves, red grape juice

Green: Parlsey

• Grey: blackberries,

Brown: coffee, black tea

It is true, the home brew is a bit messier than the instant version (but let’s face it, egg dyeing is always messy). Natural dyes take longer to work, so be patient. Their colors may be lighter than the vivid packaged variety.  The longer the egg can sit in the dye bath, the richer the color.

But with natural dyes, you can cook the eggs in the dye as it brews, which saves time and contains the mess a bit.

To get started, place the eggs in a single layer in a non-aluminum pan, and cover them with 1 inch of water and a little vinegar, which helps set the color on the eggs (see recipe above).

To the water, add the ingredients for the dye, pushing them down into the water and among the eggs. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. (If you’re using beverages for the dye, simply simmer the eggs in the liquid. If you’re using a can of blueberry pie filling, simply drop the cooked egg in there.)

Remove the eggs, strain the dye and let it cool. If you want the eggs to be a darker hue, put the dye in a bowl with the eggs and refrigerate for hours or overnight. Or try a second color for the eggs (keep several pots of dye going). The key is to experiment with anything colorful that you can crush and simmer in water for a dye.

If you would like a sheen on the eggs, rub them with vegetable oil. For easy storage, keep the just-dyed eggs in their original cartons.

The dye is only a starting point. You also can dabble with texture and design. For a mottled effect, rub the dyed egg to remove some of the color before it is dry.

For patterns, wrap the egg in onion skins or tiny leaves after it has been colored (but before it dries). For a stipled effect, use a clean sponge and dab at the wet colored egg. For a marbleized look, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the dye and swirl the egg in the color.

Channel your inner child by drawing on the eggs with a wax crayon to create designs (the dye won’t adhere to the wax). Rubber bands also can be used to create designs before you drop eggs in the dye.

From Alice the Cook:
The most important thing is to have fun with your friends and family.  It desn’t matter what your faith or beliefs are.  Holidays are an excellent reason to get together and cherish what we have – love, life, and happiness.



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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 at 7:14 am and is filed under Hints, history, kids. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 comments so far


I tried this this year. I used blown eggs and one pot with beets, one with purple onion, one with blueberry/pomegranate juice concentrate and one with red cabbage. I also made resist designs with leaves. I boiled the egg shells in the dye bath for about 15 minutes then let them soak overnight. The result was beautifully colored eggs but oddly the shells softened somewhat and nearly all of them broke a bit. I rinsed them and still had a pretty display. Even odder, a few days later they grew moldy!!!

April 19th, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I’m sorry to hear that they went moldy. That is very unfortunate.

April 23rd, 2012 at 7:02 am

I just happened to stumble across your sit and the write up Alice the Cook » Blog Archive » Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs. The essay you provide kind of makes me think. Thanks for writing the article.

May 1st, 2012 at 1:04 pm

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