Using natural food dyes can be a healthy way to add color to recipes. Natural dyes create beautiful hues without chemicals like petroleum that are present in most artificial dyes. Dyes from beets or purple cabbage used in cakes or frosting surprisingly does not affect the taste. However, eggs are a wonderful surface to experiment with natural dyes because you can use spices for color that could adversely affect the flavor if they were used in baked goods.
Using natural dyes for Easter eggs is just as fun as using traditional food coloring, and kids love experimenting with different fruits, vegetables, and spices as dyes. We tried at least a dozen foods from carrots to turmeric, and found the below ingredients produced the most vibrant colors. However, don’t be afraid to try other ingredients as dyes. Pressed juices, teas, or even flowers can produce interesting colors.
2 cups beets peeled and cubed – red
2 cups frozen blueberries – purple
2 cups purple cabbage, chopped – blue
2 tablespoons turmeric – yellow
2 tablespoons paprika – orange
1. Boil two cups of the vegetable or fruit with two cups water over medium high heat. For the spices use two tablespoons spice and two cups water.
2. Once the ingredients reach a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the dye in a bowl and allow it to rest until it reaches room temperature.
3. Discard any unreduced vegetable or fruit pieces and pour the dye through a fine mesh sieve. This step creates a smooth dye by removing any small pieces of vegetables or fruit and any grainy pieces from the spices.
4. Once the dyes are created you’re ready for your hard-boiled eggs. We found the eggs need to be soaked in natural dyes longer than artificial dyes to produce our desired color. Five minutes per egg is sufficient for most dyes except the ones made with paprika and cabbage which required soaking the egg for about an hour.
A sign of a good natural dye is an opaque color that looks much darker in the bowl. For example, our dye made from blueberries looked almost black, but once the egg was dyed produced a vibrant purple. You can also try mixing dyes to create new colors. To make green coloring, we combined equal parts of the blueberry and turmeric dyes.