Easter Eggs Over Easy

Photo: iStockphoto.com/selensergen
How to make colourful egg treasures with safe and natural dyes.

There’s no need to run out and buy special decorating kits to make your Easter egg baskets this year. Everything you need is right in your kitchen.

More importantly, while most food dyes are labelled as safe, some are still derived from petroleum and thus less eco-friendly than we’d like. Plus, according to the medical journal, The Lancet, there’s also some evidence that consuming synthetic food dyes increase hyperactivity among children.

This Easter holiday, why not try preparing beautiful coloured eggs using natural dyes you can make at home. The Easter Bunny will thank you!

Egg preparation

To start, wash your eggs with a gentle organic soap to remove any dirt or oil.  

Make-your-own natural dyes

Create seven Easter colours using natural food items:

Pink/red: pomegranate juice, red onion skins, beets, cranberries or cranberry juice, raspberries, red grape juice, hibiscus tea, red wines, currants

Orange: yellow onion skins, paprika, chili powder

Yellow: orange or lemon peels, carrot tops or shredded carrots, celery seed, ground cumin, ground turmeric, yellow mustard powder, curry powder

Green: spinach, liquid chlorophyll, grass clippings

Blue: red cabbage, canned blueberries or blueberry juice, blackberries, purple grape juice

Lavender: Small quantity of purple grape juice, purple petunias or violets, frozen/fresh blueberries

Brown: dill seeds, black walnut shells, black tea or coffee

Directions

To make four cups of dye you will need:

•  1 tablespoon of a spice or one litre (4 cups of a chopped fruit or vegetable) You can use frozen or canned vegetables in place of fresh.

•  one litre (4 cups) of water

•  2 tablespoons of white vinegar

Cold-dip: Suitable for younger children since the eggs and dyes are boiled separately. After the dye has been strained and cooled, the eggs are dipped for five to ten minutes in the solution. Produces soft, pastel shades.

Hot-dip: Eggs are boiled directly in the dye. Use two tablespoons of vinegar per quarter litre (cup) of water. Place eggs, vegetables or fruit into a pan (not aluminium). Make sure there is enough water to cover the eggs. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water.

If you are pressed for time between preparing the egg hunt and cooking up a storm for Easter dinner, many companies sell prepared dyes that are all-natural. Seelect offers natural, vegan and gluten-free food colour, and ShopBakersNook features eight essential natural colours too. Nova Natural Toys and Crafts also sells egg dyes in natural, Easter hues that are completely safe and edible.

Different effects for different eggs

Be creative with your decorating! Using household items like masking tape, try some of these techniques for a unique, art-inspired egg.  

•  Try decorating the eggs with crayons or wax pencils before boiling them.

•  Wrap a rubber band around the egg to keep parts of it white, creating a batik effect.

•  Cut out designs from masking tape and put them on your egg. Dip your eggs into the dye and when they are dry remove the masking tape. For a layered effect, take off half the masking tape and dip into another colour.

•  Double dipped for added colours. Boil your egg for the first coat and then cold dip for the second. You can get a striped effect by only dipping one end of the egg.