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Making and Using Natural Egg Dyes

The lovely Catherine of Photo Kitchen came over last week to take photographs for Hounds in the Kitchen Egg Week 2011. Yesterday, I shared how to blow out eggshells. Continue reading for recipes, tips, and even an eggshell planting project. eggs in natural dye

Encouraged by my friend Vanessa Prentice, I made egg dyes from edible materials this year. I was surprised to find that natural dyes are easy to make, completely safe to consume, and don't stain your fingertips.

I made dyes from purple cabbage, red beet, and ground tumeric, pictured left to right above. Other edibles that Vanessa recommends include blueberries (purple color), tea (light brown), and coffee (dark brown). Green is a particularly difficult color to achieve, she says.

I boiled the edible materials in water with a splash of vinegar to act as a mordant. A mordant is a chemical that encourages dye to attach to a surface. These mixes simmered until the colorful edible until the liquid was brightly colored, about an hour.

I strained out the solids and poured the liquids into jars. Because I was using them the next day, I stored the dye in the refrigerator overnight.

Next, I gathered the prepared the eggs for decorating. Some were boiled and most were blown out for a more permanent canvass.

Lil wrapped the eggs in string, tape, or rubber bands for patterns. Shaped stickers also make white space on the shells.

eggs wrapped in rubber bands for resist dying

Finally, it was time to dunk the eggs. I should have predicted that the hollow eggs would float, but I didn't until we actually observed them. Because we wanted solid colored eggs, I gently weighed them down with glass jars on top of the dye.

weighing down blown out easter eggs with jars

The hardest part came next: waiting. Natural dyes make the deep rich colors if left in the dye bath for 24 hours. The blue egg in the picture on left was in the bath for about 2 hours; the one on the right soaked for 24 hours.

blue easter egg dyed with red cabbage leavesblue egg dyed with red cabbage

Finally we had a rainbow of dyed eggs with fun patterns! Are you dying eggs this year? Will you experiment with natural dyes?

rainbow of naturally dyed eggs

All photos with the Photo Kitchen watermark belong to Catherine and were generously shared with me. You may purchase copies and view the whole set of photographs in the online gallery. Use the coupon code houndscrossover to receive 25% off prices until May 15.

Added to Hearth and Soul Volume 44.