Since Easter is this weekend, I thought this would be a good topic for In the Kitchen. Here are instructions for making and using natural egg dyes.
The rich colors of natural dyes can be coaxed from the most unassuming items in your vegetable bin or spice rack. Humble ingredients–such as red cabbage, onion skins, paprika, and coffee–can produce elegant and often unexpected colors when used for dyeing.
Color Source (These amounts will color approximately 6 eggs):
Orange: Paprika, 4 tablespoons per quart of water
Blue: Red cabbage, about 4 cups, shredded, per quart of water
Red: Pomegranate juice in place of water OR 4 cups red onion skins
Pink: Cranberry juice in place of water OR 4 cups shredded beets per quart of water
Green: Spinach (fresh or frozen), 4 cups per quart of water
Ocher: Onion skins, 4 cups of the dry outer skins
Mocha: 1 quart of strongly brewed coffee in place of water
There are two ways to color eggs with natural dyes: boiling and cold dipping. Boiling allows dyes to penetrate the eggshell and results in darker, more even colors. The cold-dip method can be better if you want to eat the eggs and safer if children are helping out.
Place 6-8 eggs in a single layer in a large pot and add enough water to cover eggs by one inch. Add some white vinegar (2 tablespoons per quart of water). Add dye ingredients (up to 4 cups vegetable solids or 3-4 tablespoons of a colorful spice, like paprika or turmeric, per quart of water or replace water with any all-liquid ingredient) and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The motion of the eggs in the boiling water ensures that the color will be even on the egg. The resulting egg will be very hard-boiled and inedible, as it picks up the flavor of the dye.
Combine dye materials, vinegar,and water in the same proportions as the boil method above, in a large pot. Simmer 20-30 minutes, then strain and cool. Dip hard-boiled eggs in cold dye until desired color is achieved, soaking anywhere from 5 minutes to several hours in the refrigerator. Turn eggs occasionally to ensure even dyeing. Dry on paper towels or in egg cartons.