2014-04-10 / From The Garden

Easter Eggs Au Naturel

By Cynthia Gibson


Use all-natural dye recipes with household ingredients to create Easter eggs in beautifully subdued shades. Use all-natural dye recipes with household ingredients to create Easter eggs in beautifully subdued shades. Dyeing Easter eggs in natural food coloring is a fun spring tradition. Not only is this “how to” project simple, but it also creates shimmering hues far superior to anything purchased at the supermarket.

Children and adults alike will delight in the simplicity of creating Easter eggs “au naturel,” with vegetables, herbs or beans serving as the source for most of the lustrous dyes. Beets create a pink color; blueberries, a bluish purple; red cabbage, a deep purple or deep blue; and turmeric will turn your eggs golden yellow. Boiling brown onion skins is an age-old recipe for tinting eggs, while strong instant coffee will produce deeper beiges and browns.

When starting out, make sure to have stainless steel or enamel pots available for boiling the eggs. White eggs are best, as they make for truer colors.


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. It is best to steer clear of farm fresh eggs for this home project, as they do not peel easily. Use eggs that have been refrigerated for at least five days.

Vinegar is imperative to have on hand when mixing the dyes. The acid in the vinegar gently etches the surface of the egg, allowing it to hold color better. Not magic, just science.

The basic recipes for charming, non-commercial, Easter egg dyes are so easy.

Red: Two cups of grated red beets boiled in two cups of water, adding one tablespoon of white vinegar. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth if you want it free of impurities. As you grate the beets, your red fingers will foretell the intense color of your eggs.

Bluish-purple: One pound of crushed frozen or fresh blueberries boiled in three cups of water, adding one tablespoon of white vinegar.

Purple, blue lavender: A half head of shredded purple cabbage boiled in three cups of water, adding one tablespoon of white vinegar. The longer you keep the egg in the liquid, the darker it will get.

Bright yellow-gold: The lovely spice common to making a delicious curry is what you will use here. Stir two tablespoons of turmeric into one cup of boiling water, adding two teaspoons of white vinegar.

Beige and brown: Mix a very stiff cup of instant coffee and add one tablespoon of white vinegar. For a more golden brown, use brown onion skins instead. Use about three cups of skins and two or three cups of water, depending upon the darkness you want.

Green: Dye the egg in the bright yellow mixture and let it dry. Then bathe it in the blueberry mixture. Combining the two will give you a lovely natural shade of green. Boiling frozen spinach in water has the same effect.

Large coffee mugs are some of the best vessels for dipping. Just be sure not to put too much of the hot mixture into each mug, as the eggs will take up room.

Use small slotted spoons instead of flimsy egg dippers. They are easier to handle and create less of a mess.

A creative idea is to decorate the eggs with crayons or stickers prior to dyeing them. The color will not penetrate words or designs made with crayons (wax), so the marks will be preserved in white. Stickers will give the same result.

The eggs can be dried on a cookie rack. Then I suggest presenting the bright eggs in a basket filled with real straw instead of plastic shreds of green grass. The honeycolored straw will bring out the brilliant shades of your creations.

Forget the glitter this year and call on nature for your Easter basket treasures. The results will be truly wonderful and you’ll be filled with the magic of the holiday.

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