Issue 93 is out now
Lucy Corkhill

By Lucy Corkhill

28th March 2013

Not only are the results beautiful, dyeing eggs is a fun hands-on way to bring experimental science into your kitchen! You can make your own natural handmade dyes using vegetables, drinks and spices. The fun starts when you start making up your own dyes and experimenting with how long you soak the eggs in the dye solution.

Lucy Corkhill

By Lucy Corkhill

28th March 2013

Lucy Corkhill

By Lucy Corkhill

28th March 2013

The colours are wonderfully bright and make an attractive table decoration or a decorative Easter egg hunt (perhaps make sure there’s a chocolate egg at the end!).

You can either use hard boiled eggs or blow the eggs before you start. Blowing eggs is a bit tricky to start with, and might be too challenging for younger ones, but it seems a shame to waste good eggs, so you might prefer to blow them for that reason. Boiled eggs are sturdier for small hands to manage, and as the dyes are natural, I can’t see any reason why you can’t eat them after you’ve enjoyed them! Blown eggs have to be handled with real care, and you might lose a few during the process of dyeing them, so be prepared with plenty. The contents of the blown eggs can be used to make Easter cakes and other treats.

One really fun thing to do is draw patterns or words on your eggs with wax crayons before you dye them. It looks most effective when you use a white or flesh coloured crayon. You might like to write words to inspire and uplift you as you look at your Easter table, like Love, Laughter, Fun, Family. Or your children might want to personalise their eggs with little pictures of themselves or their names. Simple patterns like waves or even stripes around the egg look lovely too. Another way of adding pattern is to put different sized rubber bands around the eggs to create tie-dyed eggs. But if you haven’t got any crayons or rubber bands handy, the dyed eggs themselves look so pretty in a bowl together.

There are two different methods for creating dyed eggs. You can either boil the eggs in the dye solution, creating a more uniform colour, or opt for the cold-dipping method for which you prepare the dyes beforehand and either soak the eggs or dip them in the dye solution. The cold-dipping method is better for blown eggs.

You will need:
Natural dye ingredients (see below)
Eggs
Large saucepan
White vinegar
Coffee filter or small-mesh strainer
A metal spoon is useful if you don’t want dyed fingers!
Paper towels
Drying rack, or you can use an egg box
Cooking oil

To make dyed eggs using the boiling method:

• Put your raw eggs in a large pan (be warned pans can become discoloured by the dye) and cover with water
• Add about 2 tablespoons of white vinegar (this helps to ‘fix’ the colour)
• Add the dye ingredients to the pan and bring to the boil. Vary the amount of dye ingredients for deeper or subtler colours – that’s where the fun experimentation comes in! (The eggs will not go as dark a colour as the colour in the pan)
• Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 15-60 minutes or until you are happy with the colour of the eggs
• Remove the eggs from the pan and pat dry with a paper towel then leave on a drying rack to dry

To make dyed eggs using the cold-dipping method

• Add the dye ingredients to a pan and cover with water
• Add two tablespoons of vinegar
• Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes
• Remove the dye from the heat and strain through a coffee filter to remove any debris
• Place the filtered liquid in a bowl (preferably one you don’t mind getting stained or a stainless steel one) and add the eggs you want to dye
• You could try dipping one end of an egg in one coloured dye and the other end in a different colour
• It’s up to you how long you leave the eggs in the dye solution, from 5 minutes for a subtle shade or overnight in the refridgerator

If you’ve used the boiling method, you can strain the dye (as in the cold dipping method) and continue dyeing your eggs in the refrigerator if you’d like a deeper colour. To finish your eggs once they are dry, try rubbing them with a little cooking oil. This gives them a lovely shiny appearance.

Here are some ideas for making your own natural dyes:

BLUE/PURPLE: Red onion skins (lots can make red dye), red wine
BLUE: Red cabbage leaves, purple grape juice
GREEN: Spinach,
YELLOW: Orange/lemon peel, turmeric, carrot tops, chamomile tea
GOLD/BROWN: Dill seeds
BROWN: Coffee grinds or instant coffee
ORANGE: Onion skins, paprika, carrot
PINK: Cranberry juice, beetroot
RED: Pomegranate juice, tinned cherries in juice

Experiment and make up your own dyes too!

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