When it comes to Easter traditions, one of the most iconic is the dying of Easter eggs – and since there is no wrong way to decorate these holiday favorites, dying eggs is a perfect activity for the young ones in our families to enjoy. What many parents find not so perfect, however, are the chemicals used to produce the artificial dyes that are most often used in the coloring of eggs. Although the FDA concluded in 2011 that there is still not enough substantial evidence to warrant the addition of warning labels on food dyes, the chemicals in artificial dye have been linked to ADHD, autism and even cancer. To take matters into their own hands, moms around the world have been resourceful in finding creative, natural ways to dye eggs in the name of healthier eating.
Aside from being a safer alternative to artificial dyes, homemade food coloring also has the potential to turn a traditional holiday activity into a valuable science project. By learning how natural foods can be made into dyes, children not only learn how to use a tool, but how they can think critically to make it themselves. It also reminds them that sometimes the materials you need are ones that you already have. Once children are able to make these connections, the possibilities are endless!
If you are looking to have your afternoon of Easter egg-dying double as a science project, ask your children what ingredients they think would work best as dyes, and try them out! To give your family a little hint of what others have found successful, we have compiled a list of our favorite dying-ingredients. In any case, remember to wipe the eggs’ shells gently with vinegar before you start, to help them absorb color.
While there are other methods of dying that include using raw egg, all of the recipes below require that eggs be hard-boiled, so there’s no need for kids to be extra gentle with raw eggs.
|Red Cabbage||Boil one head of cabbage in 2 quarts of water for 30 minutes. Strain the boiled cabbage water into a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of salt and 4 tablespoons of vinegar. Lower the egg into the bath, and let it soak for 30 seconds to one minute for a pale blue. For a deeper color, let it soak overnight.|
|Red/Pink||Beets||Add 8 cups of chopped beets, ¼ cup vinegar and ¼ cup of salt to a pot filled with 8 cups of water. Lower egg into the bath and let it soak.|
|Green||Turmeric, Red Cabbage||If you are already using red cabbage to make blue dye, and turmeric to make yellow, put eggs into each bath to make green.|
|Purple||Blueberries||Add two cups of crushed blueberries to 2 cups of water and bring mixture to a boil. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and strain to discard any solids, and stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Let the mixture cool, and then let eggs soak in the dye until the desired color is reached.|
|Yellow||Turmeric||Add 4 tablespoons salt, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 6 tablespoons of turmeric to a pot filled with 2 quarts of water.|
|Sienna||Red Onions||Create an onion skin bath consisting of 2 quarts water, 2 quarts packed onion skins, ¼ cup vinegar, and ¼ cup of salt. Soak eggs overnight in the mixture.|
|Brown||Coffee||Add ¼ cup of vinegar and ¼ cup salt to a pot filled with 2 quarts of very strong coffee. Let it soak overnight.|
For more information on food dyes: