In which I dye eggs with other foodstuffs to greater and lesser success

The last time I dyed Easter eggs… well, I really couldn’t tell you when it was, exactly. I was the official dyer in our house growing up, however. My dad had exactly zero interest. my brother past age six or so followed suit, and my mom isn’t really into things that make a mess on the kitchen counter. We dyed them as a family when I was little, of course, but once I could oversee things on my own, I was pretty much left to it. My mom would buy me the Paas® box, though, with the crazed bunny on the front and the tablets inside with the bronzed wire holder with which to gently dip the eggs into their colored baths.

I’ve been meaning to try dying eggs with food, for professional reasons, for quite some time. After a wee bit of research I decided on:

Red cabbage for blue

Beets for pink

Tumeric for yellow

Onion skins for orange

Red onions skins for purple-ish

Spinach for green

I also played around with making the dye ahead or just cooking the eggs in the dye. Wasted food is anathema to me. It is bad enough the dye-making food would get tossed; I wanted the eggs themselves to be edible, and deliciously so. They would not be boiled to a rubbery death in order for the dye to take on my watch.

The fairly great successes were the red cabbage, tumeric, and, to a very surprising slightly lesser, beets.

For each start with 4 to 6 cups of water (figure out how much you need to cover 6 eggs in the pot or bowl you’re going to dye them in). Then choose your color:

Blue: Add a small head of red cabbage, shredded, and boil it up for about 15 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let it sit to cool. Strain out the cabbage shreds, stir in 1/4 cup distilled vinegar, and let eggs soak in the cooled mixture until they are nice and robin’s eggy blue.

Yellow: Cover 6 eggs in a medium pot with 4 to 6 cups of water. Add 1 tablespoon tumeric and 1/4 cup distilled vinegar and bring to a boil. Cover, let sit 14 minutes, and remove eggs to an ice bath. You can also boil up the tumeric in water and use as a dye in which to dip eggs, like the red cabbage above, but they will be a less vibrant yellow.

Sort of pink in a mottled, old-fashioned, could-be-mistaken-for-a-stone way: Proceed as with a red cabbage for blue, but use 2 grated red beets. Do not cook the eggs with the beets – you don’t get any color to speak of and you need to fish the eggs out of a real mess.

Curious readers will still be thinking about all those onion skins and spinach and what became of them. I used skins for four onions and boiled them down to get a dye. I tried cooking the eggs in that dye and dyeing them after cooking, all with the same shades of brown results:

Looks like a bought brown eggs, doesn’t it? In fact, this set of 8 includes some dyed with yellow onion skins, some with red onions skins, and some naturally brown eggs. As booty for an Easter egg hunt, they are a bust. As conceptual art, they are magical.

And the spinach? Yeah, that didn’t work. At all. Those all got dyed blue and yellow instead.