Thursday, April 21, 2011

To Dye For

Millie writes:

Easter's on its way, and as I opened the box of decorations this morning I realized that not only did I buy the little cardboard box of dye pellets last night, I stocked up on them at the sales after Easter last year.

I guess I plan to dye just a little, inside.

Anyway, believe it or not there are lots of ways to color your Easter eggs and some of them don't even involve those little dye pellets at all. (You probably already know this, but if you have vinegar and liquid food coloring you can make your own dye.) As long as everyone's making a mess anyway, you may as well give one or two of them a try!

Au Naturel

Yellow onion peels make orange, red onion peels make purple, purple cabbage makes blue, beets make pink, ground turmeric makes yellow. Boil the dye material in water until the water is darker than the color you want on the eggs, then let cool. (Use a LOT of dye material; for example, a whole head of cabbage will dye about 8 eggs.) Strain the stuff out of the water and add a scant ¼ cup of vinegar. Cover the eggs with the dye and let the whole thing sit in the fridge until the eggs are as dark as you want them.


Wrap rubber bands around a hard-boiled egg before you dye it. Vary the rubber bands' widths and the placement for different looks. For colored stripes, dye an egg a light color, let it dry, wrap rubber bands around it and dye it again with a darker color.

Crepe Paper

Have you ever seen crepe paper get wet and bleed dye everywhere? There are two ways to harness this power for good. One way is to boil the raw egg in water to which you've added a few yards of crepe-paper streamer and a little vinegar. The other is to dampen a hard-boiled egg, cover it artistically with shreds of torn crepe paper, and mist the whole thing with water. When it dries the crepe paper will brush off, leaving the color behind.


This is why they put the white crayons in the box. Use one to draw designs on a dry, hard-boiled egg (this requires a leap of faith because it's pretty hard to see what you're drawing) and then dye it. The dye will resist sticking where the crayon's wax is protecting the egg. You're supposed to be able to dip the egg in boiling water, wipe off the melted wax and dye it again to color that pattern, but I've never had any luck with that – it just smears the wax all over the egg. Looks shiny, though.


This looks so elegant and it's so easy to do – just add a few drops of cooking oil to your dye water. Right before you dip the egg, stir the water to swirl things around and break up the oil globs. Lower the egg slowly into the dye, lift it back out and the swirly patterns will stick to the shell. When it's dry wipe the oil off (this works better with oil than it does with wax) and, if you like, marble it again with another color. Pretty.


  1. Okay, I admit it: I have never dyed Easter eggs in all the nearly seven years of my parenthood journey. I think a friend was doing her eggs one year when Laureli was still itty bitty(er?) and had her help.. but I think that's about it. I would love to give a few of these a try! They all have the potential to be science experiments!

  2. Ha ha! Maggie, I can tell you how the science experiment will end: All the eggs will be muddy brown, because the final question is, "What happens if we pour all the colors TOGETHER?"

    It's a lot of fun, and a good excuse to eat hard-boiled eggs, deviled eggs and egg-salad sandwiches!


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