The coloring of eggs at Easter is one of the oldest seasonal traditions. Before Christianity early Romans, Egyptians and other ancient cultures dyed eggs to celebrate rite-of-spring festivals. Using plants like saffron and onion skins as coloring agents Greeks were able to achieve brilliant red colors in a tradition of dyeing that is still in use today. In fact everything you need to color Easter eggs is right in your kitchen pantry. Using natural dyes from spices, vegetables, fruits and beans you can color your eggs turning them into soft muted colors that look like a Renaissance painting. All without the use of synthetic colorants.
Dyeing Easter eggs with herbs is a very common tradition in Italy. Vegetables like Swiss chards, beet tops and spinaches create a beautiful green color. Ancient dyeing customs used wild roots and flowers, forest barks and tree stems with resulting colors that can be achieved with the following, more readily available, ingredients from your cupboard.
Preparation and Process
Select a natural dyeing agent and place the recommended amount in a pot. Add 1 quart of water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar per pot. Bring everything to the boil, then lower the heat. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into a bowl, and let cool a bit. With a slotted spoon, carefully lower room temperature eggs into the bowl of strained dye and allow the eggs to set 20- 30 minutes until you reach the desired color intensity. For a glossy effect rub some olive oil on the eggshell using a small cloth.
Natural Dyeing Agents
1/2 cup paprika – peach color
5 T very strong coffee or 3 T of instant coffee – tan to brown color with a vintage sepia look
1 cup canned blueberries with syrup – blue color
1 T of ground turmeric and pinch of saffron threads- golden color
red wine, hibiscus tea, boiled red onion skins – violet blue
skins from 12 medium sized onions – yellow to orange color
1 medium beet into chunks – pink
1 cup of grape juice – lavender