Naturally dyed Easter eggs

Easter DIY

Do you decorate your own eggs for Easter? Greek Orthodox Easter traditionally asks for red eggs. There are many readily available dyes in the market, food pigments are certainly not short in the market. I went for natural dyes this year and my eggs do look lovely!

Easter and sweet, sweet spring weather. I cannot imagine Easter time, catholic or orthodox without a splash of colour. As a kid, I used to wait with fervour for the time we will start the preparations for koulourakia, tsourekia and last but not least the dyed Easter eggs. On this last part, we used to make all sort of decorations, from tiny little stickers to herbal leaf transfers and baskets to carry them in. Alas, I am a bit out of touch with all these little decorations. My leaf decorations didn’t come out as nice as I would like them to be, but I am very pleased from how the colours turned out. On the plus side, completely natural dyes will not penetrate the porous egg shells nor stain your egg and are a wonder to look at. Oh yes, and they are a great little appetizer for Easter Sunday.

Natural dyes are both affordable and much more readily available than you might think. You only need to look at your kitchen cupboards: onions skins for reds, a few red cabbage leaves for blue hues and the beloved turmeric for yellow. I loved them as their tints are a bit darker than the artificial shiny pops of colour you get from food colouring elements. As for the process, much easier than I originally thought.

So, for my little experiment I got white shell eggs. Even in London these are not always very easy to come by, I know I struggled to come across them in Athens. The reason I went for white is that the dyes are relatively light and the white shell absorbs the pigment a little better than the brown egg shell would. Painting on a white canvas is always best. This is very much the case for blue and yellow; for red with onion skins the brown shell eggs work just fine. Let’s see some tips and tricks for each of the colours.


Naturally dyed red eggs – with onion skins


Good for both white & brown shell eggs Outcome: truly deep red colour

Ingredients

  • A large handful of red onion skins
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 litre of water

Directions

  1. From the onions, you will only need the outer skins. You don’t need to spend much time peeling; you can simply break the dry outer skins and keep apart in a large pot.
  2. Once you have the onion skins in a pot, cover with approximately 1 litre of water and bring it to the boil. Within 15-20 minutes of simmering, the dye should be visible.
  3. Clean the eggs from any impurities and lower them into the pot.
  4. You can leave the skins in or remove them. If left in, they might leave some pattern where they touch the eggs, but it is not necessarily a bad thing.
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes to get some lovely hard-boiled eggs. (I don’t boil hard to avoid cracks)
  6. Remove the pot from the fire and let it stand and come to room temperature. Leave the eggs in for 30 minutes up to 3 hours.
  7. When you firstly see the eggs, they will seem brownish/maroon and not deep red. Time is key here, the longer you leave them, the darker they will get.
  8. Last but not least, deep the edge of an old cloth or some kitchen towel in a bit of oil and polish once the eggs are removed from the dye and dried.

Naturally dyed blue eggs – with red cabbage leaves


Good for both white shell eggs Outcome: truly light to darker blue colour, depending on time Leave for at least 1 hour – up to 12 for deeper blue hues

Ingredients

  • 3-4 large cabbage leaves, broken into chunks
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 liter of water
  • a bit of olive oil & some towel to polish

Directions

  1. Similarly, to the previous method, peel off the first 3-4 leaves of your cabbage and lower into a pot filled with 1 liter of water or enough to fully cover.
  2. Bring to the boil and lower to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Lower in carefully with a ladle your clean eggs, add the vinegar and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes.
  4. If you wish you can remove the cabbage leaves. If left in you might get the odd pattern. Personally I quite liked it but if you are in for the perfect sheen, look at the next method.
  5. Time to set the dye: 30 minutes for very little blue – minimum 3 hours for deeper blue.
  6. Deep an old cloth or some kitchen towel in a bit of oil and polish once dried.
Turmeric dyed yellow Easter eggs @eatyourselfgreek

Naturally dyed yellow eggs – with turmeric


Good for white shell eggs
Outcome: truly light to slightly darker yellow colour, depending on time
For darker yellow 3 to 12 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 heaped teaspoons of turmeric
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 litre of water
  • a bit of olive oil & some towel to polish

Directions

  1. This method is a little bit different to the other two. I first boiled the eggs and then diluted the turmeric to make the dye and get the lovely yellow tint.
  2. So do boil your eggs, around 8 minutes will give a wonderfully hardboiled egg.
  3. Use a large bowl and in a liter of warm water fully dilute the turmeric. Add the vinegar and then one teaspoon of turmeric at a time. If turmeric doesn’t fully dissolve in the water, it will stick on the egg shell. It’s not a bad thing in itself, it will give speckled eggs with orangey tint speckles. So, if you fancy a smooth homogeneous sheen, make sure you add the turmeric gradually and if you spooned in a bit too much there is always a sieve to the rescue.
  4. Time to set the dye: 1 hour for very little, pastel yellow – minimum 12 hours for deeper yellow.
  5. Finally, once you have removed the eggs for the dye solution and let to dry, deep an old cloth or some kitchen towel in a bit of oil and polish.

I hope you have enjoyed this little DIY experiment. Both methods are quite easy but it is entirely up to you how you fancy orchestrating your kitchen pots for this little experiment. You can boil them in the dye or hardboil in one go and deep in the dye solutions of your choice. Whichever method you choose coloured eggs are indeed a joy.

Have you tried your hand on it before? If you feel tempted, please feel free to share your handiwork either in the comments below or on my social handles on Facebook or Instagram.

Have fun and a really lovely Easter

From sunny London with love,

Eugenia

PS I am rushing out to enjoy the sunshine – it’s 24 C! 😀 😀 😀

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