The last time I shared an Easter crafts post was when Euan painted eggs aged 3. 5 years later, with time on our hands thanks to the Corona virus lockdown, we decided to do some Easter crafts with his 3 year old brother. If nothing else it stops the days blurring into one and can be counted as home learning that doesn’t feel like pulling teeth.
Making your own natural dyes
Pre-children I read a lot of blogs and used Pinterest to bookmark craft ideas. I always fancied dyeing easter eggs when I read Mommypotamus’s post about how to make dyes using everyday natural ingredients. Don’t the colours look gorgeous. I especially loved the look of the turquoise egg that comes from boiling up purple cabbage. Yesterday I finally tried it with Euan, now 8. Life in lockdown meant rolling with what we had available so sadly no cabbage experiments this time and only one egg per jar as we only had small rationed amounts. We managed 4 jars with a single egg in each (except Turmeric which we also put a couple of cracked eggs in as well to see if they would marble).
making orange from onion skins
The great thing about using onion skins is you can peel them off even if you’re not ready to cook with the onions because the outer layer of skin will just brown off again. That said I was making dyes while cooking Sunday lunch so I did use just a handful of skins, accepting the effect would probably not be as vibrant as using more skins might be. You could save up skins throughout the week if you fancied giving this a go with more eggs. Mommypotamus recommends boiling for 15-60 minutes but my rationing extended to my fuel use so I boiled for 5mins and simmered for 5 mins. For vegetable dyes you need to add some vinegar which for my batch was just a teaspoon as I only had half a cup of liquid. I poured the cooled dye into a jar, added my egg and popped it into the fridge overnight (and repeated this with each dye)
making yellow from Turmeric
I wasn’t going to try this one but the word ”Turmeric” had obviously lodged subconsciously as the tea I chose before making these eggs was Twynings Turmeric and Star Anise. I completely forgot about it so rather than drinking it cold I added a teaspoon of turmeric powder and bunged in an egg. It made me wonder if herbal teas would be a good option low fuss option for dyeing eggs and a quick search on Pinterest provided the answer. I’m guessing paler herbal tea dyes would work best on white shelled eggs (mine were mostly brown). As for the Turmeric dye just one teaspoon did a good job of turning the shell yellow and we cracked a couple of eggs as well to see what patterns we’d get. Euan said the eggs tasted different when we used them to make egg mayo wraps which I thought was just 8 year old fussy-ness but when quizzed he said it tasted ”sort of powdery and a bit spicey’‘. Seems my boy has a discerning palette!
making green from Spinach
This dye wasn’t particularly strong so didn’t make any difference to our lightest brown egg in the picture. It was a good way to use up some spinach growing legs in the fridge (I always have such good intentions of using it in smoothies but we’d used up the last of our bananas making cake!)
making pink from beetroot
So this was the easiest option as I didn’t have any fresh beets so simply used the left over vinegar from a jar of pickled beetroot! It was also the most effective dye so you could try this straight away with zero effort. I don’t know if the higher concentration of vinegar made a difference but we also discovered the colouring had penetrated right the way through the shell and stained the egg white within (much to Euan’s amusement). It didn’t effect the taste and he rather liked eating a pink egg.
If we had a garden I would have found some leaves or flower petals to try and make them more decorative like these. And if I did this again I would definitely try and find white eggs to give my dyes the best chance of taking. These eggs wouldn’t take a lot of handling (some of the colour from the onion dye scratched off taking pictures) but to make a colourful centre piece for the table they’re perfectly lovely. I’m still intrigued by the idea of blue eggs from purple cabbage so definitely hope to do that one day!
What I loved about experimenting with natural dyes was knowing there was no waste and that we could eat the eggs like normal after. We’re careful about what we put on our skin and use non-toxic cleaning products so it’s important to extend this caution to our crafting activities. Some people use food colouring to dye eggs and this is fine if you’re confident they contain natural ingredients and not synthetic dyes.
If you’re looking for other makes this weekend I’ve been pinning ideas to my Easter Crafts board on Pinterest.