Sunday, April 27, 2014

Natural Dyed Eggs Experiment

We've decorated Easter eggs in a variety of ways over the years, and for something new, I decided to make our own natural dyes this year. The results were not as great as they could have been, but I have figured out the basics for making homemade dyes, and I now know what to do differently next time. Up front, I should have prepared the dyes the day before we wanted to dye eggs since this was a time-consuming process. Since I felt the time crunch, I didn't let the dyes steep nearly as long as I could have (and probably should have) in order to get deeper color saturation. Also, I would have liked to try to make more variety of colors, but for my first attempt, 3 seemed like plenty!

{Left to right: spinach, beet root, carrot, plain white egg}

The first color that I tried was red/pink. I used my beet root powder that I've been using to make lip gloss, blush, and eye shadow. (And as an aside for anybody who is wondering, yes, I love all of these homemade makeup recipes and I wear them daily!) There may be another way to make dye, but I kept it super-simple. I just put a small amount of beet root powder in a bowl and then added some water. I stirred it until the beet root powder was dissolved and let it set until we were ready to use it. I thought that this would produce the most intense color on the eggs, and I was surprised that it wasn't the winner in that respect.

Next up, I wanted to make green out of some fresh spinach. I pureed the spinach (maybe two cups?) in my blender and then placed it in a pot on the stove top. I added a couple cups of water, and brought it to a boil. Then, I put a lid on it and simmered it for 1 1/2 hours. (This is one that most likely should have simmered longer, but again, I had that time crunch -- children who were ready to color eggs!) In retrospect, too, I wished that I had strained it because this dye left green flecks of spinach on the egg shells, which didn't look as interesting as it might sound -- more like they were kind of messy. So, note to self: have cheese cloth on hand for next time. The good news, however, is that this was the clear winner for most intense dye of the three that I made.

Lastly, I attempted to make orange dye using fresh carrots. This is another one that likely needed to simmer longer. It produced the faintest dye of the ones I tried. Most of the color came from the flecks of carrot that were left on the egg shells. (So, perhaps this one needed to be strained, too?) I chopped 4 medium size carrots and pureed them in my blender along with some water. Then, I placed them in a pot with more water, and brought it to a boil. After that, I simmered the pureed mixture with a lid on top for 1 1/2 hours.

{Natural Dyes from Beet Root, Spinach, & Carrots}

To dye the eggs, I put some of each homemade dye into a bowl, added about a teaspoon of vinegar to each (possibly unnecessary?), and let the kids put the eggs in to soak. We tried letting them sit in the dyes for 5 minutes and for 10 minutes, without noticeable differences in color saturation. (I can't even identify which is which for you in the above photo, but one row is the 5 minute-colored eggs and the other is the 10-minute colored eggs.) Anyway, the takeaway here is that you may want to leave eggs in the dyes for much longer if you want more vibrant colors! Also, we tried this on both white eggs and brown eggs, and it pretty much goes without saying that this worked better on the white eggs.

Just looking at the dyes, I thought that we would have better luck getting vibrant eggs. The good news, however, is that these dyes are completely safe -- if not all that intensely pigmented. I knew exactly what went into them. And, none of them -- beet root, spinach, or carrots -- flavored the eggs in any way. (Admit it, you were worried about that, right?) So, even though they weren't as bright as my kids and I hoped for, it was still a win and worth trying out.

P.S. Don't forget to check out my review and giveaway sponsored by Path Publishing! The giveaway continues through tomorrow, April 28th, so you still have time to enter to win your own blank book of your choice.

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