You may not know it, but you probably already have natural egg dye right in your kitchen cupboard. Many herbs and spices offer a variety of hues, shades and intensities to beautifully color your Easter eggs without artificial or synthetic dyes. Here, we give you the basic recipe, directions and tips, and leave it up to your imagination and sense of adventure to create your own magical, plant-based colors. This method is also more time-efficient than using store-bought dyes, since the coloring occurs as you’re hard-boiling the eggs.
Ingredients (for each color)
4 cups water
2 to 4 tablespoons of Frontier® bulk ground herbs or spices for each color (or, use 1 cup for whole, cut and sifted or flower-type herbs)
1 tablespoon mordant (alum, cream of tartar or vinegar)
4 to 6 raw eggs, washed
Directions* (for each color)
In an enamel or glass pot, bring water, herbs/spices and mordant to a boil. (Mordants help the color penetrate the egg shell.)
1. Add eggs, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
2. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for a minimum of 15 minutes, until eggs reach desired color and intensity. The longer you let eggs sit in the dye, the deeper your color will be.)
3. Remove eggs, gently rinse in lukewarm water and place on a rack to air dry.
How to make natural dyes from herbs & spices
Here’s a short herb & spice color guide to get you started:
Reddish Blue/Lavender: Hibiscus Flowers
Deep Gold: Turmeric Root Powder
Pale Yellow: Safflower Petals
Pale Orange: Curry Powder
Reddish Brown: Chili Powder
Soft Brown: Dill Seed
Tannish Yellow: Yarrow
Pink: Beet Powder
Blend multiple items for your own unique creations.
You can also use other plant-based materials to make lovely colors, such as beet juice, berries, coffee, grape and cranberry juices, lemon and orange peels, red cabbage leaves, tea and onion skins (red and yellow).
*If you plan to eat the eggs: cook eggs to hard-boiled stage, then remove eggs from pan. Strain and cool liquid, then place eggs back in coloring liquid and place in the refrigerator. (Eggs that are going to be eaten shouldn’t be kept out of the refrigerator for extended periods.) When eggs reach desired color, remove, rinse, and let air dry. Then immediately return to refrigerator until you’re ready to eat or make that scrumptious egg or potato salad. (If the shell cracks during dyeing, make sure the dyestuff used for that egg is safe for human consumption [e.g., if flowers were used], or discard the egg.)