Mason Jar Lifestyle

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs Using Everyday Food

Mason Jar Lifestyle Naturally Dyed Egg Using Everyday Food

Hey there, Mason jar fans!

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If you’re reading this blog post in real time, then you’re in the throws of Quarantine 2020 with the rest of us and life is a little unsettled at the moment.

But in the chaos, we’re also finding extra time to slow down and be at home. 

So in that spirit, I decided to try my hand at a project I’ve contemplated for years – naturally dying Easter eggs.

“Why naturally dye Easter eggs?” you might be asking yourself… Well, my husband would say it’s because I’m “addicted to being difficult,” but that’s not how I choose to frame it 😀.

I’m always striving to do what I think is best for our family (even if that’s not the most convenient option).

So Why Skip Artificial Food Coloring?

Artificial food coloring is designed to make food look prettier and be more appealing to consume and boy does it work! Consumption of food dyes has increased 500 percent in the past 50 years! Ingesting artificial dyes has been linked to hyperactivity, behavior problems, and possibly increases the risk of developing certain cancers. While no artificial colors are currently banned or limited here in the United States, other countries have taken steps to remove certain dyes from their food.

And yes, I acknowledge typically not that much dye gets inside of the eggs (depending on how exuberant your helpers are…) so it’s probably not a big deal and your exposure would be minimal. That being said, we’ve chosen to pass on the Paas for decades.

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At Chateau Nadeau, we’ve been buying natural, food based egg dying kits since our daughters were born. They work okay, but I’ve never been blown away. Plus the kit we regularly buy only has 3 colors in it, so it’s really not that exciting. Hence the decision to try making our own dye this year!
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Our Easter Egg Dying Experiment

The recipes (see below) in this blog post are exactly what I used, and that decision was made based on my research, what I had at home already, and what I was able to find at the store (remember: Quarantine 2020 and the panic buying).

You may want to try and adjust them a little and see what results you get. Perhaps you have different fruits, veggies, teas, and spices on hand that you want to utilize. I think the best part of creating your own dye is that it’s a great experiment for everyone to participate in.  So get creative and then share your results!

I also wanted to test out the difference between dying white and brown eggs. I don’t know about you, but we typically have brown eggs on hand, and it can be a bit of a pain to remember to pick up white eggs just for dying.

In the recipes I looked at, it generally said dying brown eggs would simply give you a darker or more jewel like tone. That didn’t seem very likely to me so I decided to try a white and a brown egg in the same mixture for the same amount of time to see the results.

You can also vary the amounts and types of acid in the dye to produce different effects. ScienceFriday did a whole article on it which would be a great chemistry lesson for those quarantine schooling right now!

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I’m a bit of a research nerd – if you know me, then you already know that! I looked at a lot of different websites and recipes in putting this project together, and I’ll link them all at the bottom for you to puruse.I decided to try to pull together different recipes in order to simplify the process and hopefully create “best practices” for everyone.

Our Easter Egg Dying Experiment

The recipes (see below) in this blog post are exactly what I used, and that decision was made based on my research, what I had at home already, and what I was able to find at the store (remember: Quarantine 2020 and the panic buying).

You may want to try and adjust them a little and see what results you get. Perhaps you have different fruits, veggies, teas, and spices on hand that you want to utilize. I think the best part of creating your own dye is that it’s a great experiment for everyone to participate in.  So get creative and then share your results!

I also wanted to test out the difference between dying white and brown eggs. I don’t know about you, but we typically have brown eggs on hand, and it can be a bit of a pain to remember to pick up white eggs just for dying.

In the recipes I looked at, it generally said dying brown eggs would simply give you a darker or more jewel like tone. That didn’t seem very likely to me so I decided to try a white and a brown egg in the same mixture for the same amount of time to see the results.

You can also vary the amounts and types of acid in the dye to produce different effects. ScienceFriday did a whole article on it which would be a great chemistry lesson for those quarantine schooling right now!

Our Process

step 1 egg dye banner (1)
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Step 1 : Hard Boil Some Eggs

I’ve been hard boiling eggs in muffin pans in the oven for a while now. I think it’s easy, effective, and minimizes cracking.

Here’s the recipe I use

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Put 1 egg in each of 12 muffin cups
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Plunge baked eggs in a large bowl filled with ice water until cooled completely, about 10 minutes.
Feel free to try this method, or just boil your eggs on the stovetop, whichever you prefer. No matter which method you use, make sure your eggs are cooled before dying.
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Step 2 : Creating Your Natural Dyes

Look at the recipes below, decide what options you want to try, and start pulling together those ingredients. 

I created my dyes primarily by either boiling the ingredients in 2 cups of water on my stovetop for 15 minutes or pouring 2 cups of already boiling water over them (blueberries only used 1 cup).  I added 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to all but TWO of the colors I created.  I couldn’t find the reason to not add vinegar to blueberries but every recipe I read did NOT add it – so I skipped it for mine as well.  I also did red cabbage two ways (one with vinegar and one without).  In my research, I saw that this should produce two different colors (blue and purple).

SIDE NOTES:  I had wanted to try grape juice for purple, but the store was out when I went and so I decided to mix beets and hibiscus instead in an attempt to create magenta.  I also had to buy cooked beets instead of raw – again the store was out (remember: panic buying) and that may have influenced the color I produced.

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Here is a list of the colors I attempted to create, ingredients used, and process followed to create those natural dyes:

Pink:

BEETS
8oz beets
2 cups water
Boil on the stovetop for 15 minutes
Allow to cool and strain mixture
Pour into 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar

HIBISCUS TEA
In 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
4 tea bags (I used Tazo Passion tea)
2 cups of boiling water
Steep until cool
Remove tea bags
Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar

MIX
In 16oz wide mouth Mason jar fill:
½ beet mixture
½ hibiscus mixture
2 tablespoons white vinegar

Orange:

ONION PEELS
4 onion peels about 24oz
2 cups water
Boil on the stovetop for 15 minutes
Allow to cool and strain mixture
Pour into 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar

PAPRIKA
In 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
1oz paprika
2 cups of boiling water
Allow to cool
Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Yellow:

GREEN TEA
In 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
4oz green tea
2 cups of boiling water
Steep until cool
Remove tea bags
Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar

CARROTS
8oz carrots (tops, bottoms, peels)
2 cups water
Boil on the stovetop for 15 minutes
Allow to cool and strain mixture
Pour into 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Green:

SPINACH
In 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
8oz fresh spinach, chopped
2 cups of boiling water
Steep until cool
Blend in blender or food processor
Strain mixture
Pour back into 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar

SPIRULINA
In 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
1oz spirulina powder
2 cups of boiling water
Steep until cool
Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Blue:

RED CABBAGE
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
2 cups water
Boil on the stovetop for 15 minutes
Allow to cool and strain mixture
Pour into 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar

BLUEBERRIES
In 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
8oz blueberries, frozen
1 cup boiling water
Mash blueberries to release color
Allow to cool and strain mixture
Pour back into 16oz wide mouth Mason jar
NO VINEGAR

Purple:

RED CABBAGE-NO VINEGAR
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
2 cups water
Boil on the stovetop for 15 minutes
Allow to cool and strain mixture
Pour into 16oz wide mouth Mason jar

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Step 3 : Prepping Those Eggshells

There’s some fascinating science out there explaining why vinegar is used to dye Easter eggs! I’ll link to those at the bottom as well so you can read all about how it increases the surface area of the shell, releases carbon dioxide, and changes molecular charges to increase the shells receptivity to dye.

 

For my experiment, I soaked each egg in white vinegar for 20-30 seconds.  You can see the carbon dioxide releasing and creating all those bubbles!

And yes, I soaked the blueberry and no-vinegar-cabbage eggs as well.  I’m not sure if that was the right choice or not, but that’s what I decided to do.

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Step 4 : Naturally Coloring Eggs

Now that you have all your colors prepped, cooked, and cooled in your 16oz wide mouth Mason jars, you’re all set to start coloring!

I put one white and one brown egg in each jar. A third egg might have been possible but I didn’t need 3 dozen hard boiled eggs!

Next I put lids on all my jars, like these, and put them in my fridge. I’d read that the longer you let them sit, the deeper the color. I had meant to let me dye in the fridge for 24 hours but… I got busy and they sat for 48 hours. I don’t think that negatively impacted the colors as I checked on them a few times during the process, but I think 24 hours would have been sufficient.

Then I took the eggs out and let them dry briefly on cooling racks. You can then put them back in their egg cartons. I also rubbed them lightly with olive oil to give them the polished stone look before photographing them. This is probably best for setting them on a beautiful plate and serving and not a great idea if you’re putting them in baskets or hunting them.

Another bonus to food dyed eggs is the shells will be totally compostable which my garden LOVES!

The Results

Well here they are! My girls were pretty thrilled with how the colors turned out and really enjoyed helping me with this experiment.

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ADD MORE DETAILS

I’d love to see and hear how yours turn out too!

Mason Jar Inspired Easter Baskets

If you’re putting together Easter or spring baskets for the kiddos in your life, here are some Mason jar inspired items that are a HUGE hit at our house!

Mason Jar Piggy Bank

This little piggy comes in blue or pink, fits on a regular mouth Mason jar, and you can find it HERE.

We’ve had this bank for YEARS and my daughters still carry it around like a precious lovie. It’s a bonus that the money can be easily removed without having to break the bank!

Firefly Catching Kit for Mason Jars

This adorable set up fits regular mouth Mason jars and you can find it HERE.

We always try to give our daughters some outdoor toys for Easter and this is a great addition. My girls love to catch bugs and keep them in this snazzy set up. The yellow lid is cut out with tiny fireflies for added cuteness.

Buying Candy In Bulk with Mason Jars and Storage Lids

If you’re trying to reduce the amount of plastic you’re using, then buying it in bulk is a great option! 

Right now with Covid-19 going around, I couldn’t show going to our local health food store and buying candy in bulk with Mason jars as they’re not allowing personal containers. Under normal circumstances this is totally possible, simply have the cashier get the tare weight of your jar and write it on your storage lid or put it on a piece of tape on your jar.

What we did this year was buy candy in a larger bag (not individually wrapped pieces) and give each girl some in their own jar with a storage lid.

Displaying Those Eggs!

They’re beautiful so show them off!  I put a handful of ours in a wide mouth Quart jar with a decorative lid for a super cute look that the kids loved too!  Plus as I mentioned above, since I’d rubbed them with oil, I thought this was safer than lose eggs in the basket.

Custom Easter Bunnies made by my wonderful sister-in-law HERE.

Why not use food coloring?

When I was a kid, I vividly remember eating hard boiled eggs that were blue, red, and yellow. The dye tabs we’d used weren’t intended to soak through, but they did, and that’s just one of the reasons I choose a natural approach.

As covered in this post, food dyes have been linked to attention and behavioral problems in children, certain types of cancer, and other problems.

The U.S. isn’t as stringent as Europe in regulating food dyes. They require foods which contain dyes to come with warning labels and have banned many of the ones that are still in use within the United States.

Some children are sensitive to extremely small amounts of food dye.

If you’d like to take a deep dive into the health effects of each individual dye, I recommend the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s 68 page report, Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks.

https://cspinet.org/resource/food-dyes-rainbow-risks

Eggshells are made of calcium carbonate and have a thin outermost layer called the “bloom” which seals the pores in the shell to prevent bacteria from entering the egg and to reduce moisture loss.  To improve the dye’s ability to adhere to the surface of the eggshell, remove this coating with soapy water or vinegar. Adding acid to the dye bath itself will also help. The calcium carbonate shell reacts with the acidic dye (as evidenced by carbon dioxide bubbles forming on the shell), allowing the color to penetrate the shell during the hydrogen bonding process.

Instructions

Making Easter Egg Dye

Bring  the dye matter (cabbage, turmeric, etc.) and water to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 15-60 minutes until desired color is reached. Keep in mind that the eggs will be several shades lighter so it’s best to go for deep, rich hues.

Remove the egg dye from heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Pour the dye through a mesh strainer into bowls/mason jars and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar for each cup of dye liquid.

Add hard boiled eggs to the dye and place it in fridge until the desired color is reached. I started mine in the early afternoon and let them infuse overnight.

Boiling the Eggs

Add the eggs to a medium pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a hard boil, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. After 10 minutes, place the eggs in a bowl of cold water and let them sit until they’re cool to the touch.

Drain the bowl and replace with warm, soapy water  – I use non-toxic castile soap. Gently rub the eggs with a washcloth or your thumb to remove oils that prohibit the natural dyes from adhering effectively to the egg shell.

Coloring The Eggs

Lower the eggs into the dye and place them in the fridge. Soak until your desired color is reached. (We usually soak ours overnight.)When the eggs are ready scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place them on a drying rack or an upside down egg carton.Naturally-dyed eggs have a matte finish. If you’d like to add a little luster, rub with a drop or two of coconut or olive oil.Boil your eggs first; remove from hot water and let cool completely.

  • When cool, rub the shells with white vinegar. This will help the dye adhere to the egg.
  • Create your dye solutions according to the instructions below for dye solutions.
  • Place eggs in deep cups or bowls with the natural dyes and let sit for several minutes.
  • Leave eggs in longer for deeper color saturation or refrigerate eggs in the solution overnight for richer color.
  • When color has been achieved, remove eggs from solutions and blot dry with a paper towel.
  • Experiment with both white and brown eggs. The brown eggs will take on a more muted color tone when dyed.
  • After your eggs have been dyed and completely dried, you can give them a glossy look by using a cloth to lightly rub vegetable oil on them

Blue:

Bluish-Gray: Mix 1 cup frozen mashed blueberries with 1 cup water, bring to room temperature and let sit until the water is colored. Strain blueberries before adding hard-boiled eggs.

Blue: Yes, red cabbage dyed Easter eggs turn out blue! Cut a head of red cabbage into chunks and add to 4 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar. Let cool to room temperature and remove cabbage with a slotted spoon.

2 cups shredded purple cabbage

Enough water to cover cabbage by 1 inch

1-2 tablespoons vinegar

Brown eggs will turn green and white eggs will turn blue

Hibiscus and red cabbage produced stunning blues using both types of mordants – from robin’s egg blue and turquoise, to midnight and denim blues.

Mix 1 cup frozen blueberries with 1 cup water, bring to room temperature, and remove blueberries. Do not add vinegar.

Teal: Soak eggs in blue made from red cabbage and then soak eggs in yellow made with turmeric.

Purple:

Lavender: Mix 1 cup grape juice and 1 tablespoon vinegar.

 Red cabbage, blackberries, purple or red grape juice

Red cabbage (no vinegar) Bring to a boil and mash down with a potato masher to get the color out.

Strain out cabbage and allow water to cool before using.

1-2 cups homemade beet kvass 


Red:

Pink:

Dark pink: These beet-dyed eggs will darken the longer they sit in the liquid. Cut 1 medium beet into chunks and add to 4 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar and let cool to room temperature; remove beets.

Add Hibiscus tea?

Yellow:

Rich yellow: Simmer 4 oz. chopped carrot tops in 1-1/2 cups water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 2 teaspoons white vinegar. 

Mustard-yellow: Stir 2 tablespoons turmeric into 1 cup boiling water; add 2 teaspoons white vinegar. 

2 cups water

1 tablespoon turmeric

2 tablespoons vinegar creates

 (FYI, since turmeric is notorious for staining your skin, you’ll want to wear rubber gloves when handling yellow eggs.)

Various shades: Steep 4 bags of chamomile or green tea in 1 cup boiling water for 5 minutes.

Strongly brewed chamomile tea creates a soft yellow.

carrots or celery seed

Orange:

Orange: The longer you soak these onion dyed eggs, the darker the color will be. Take the skin of 6 yellow onions and simmer in 2 cups water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 3 teaspoons white vinegar.

2 cups yellow onion skins

Enough water to cover skins by 1 inch

1-2 tablespoons white vinegar

Faint Red-Orange: Stir 2 tablespoons paprika into 1 cup boiling water; add 2 tsp. white vinegar.

Paprika, cumin, chili powder or yellow onion skins

Green:

Jade Green: Peel the skin from 6 red onions and simmer in 2 cups water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 3 teaspoons white vinegar.

Spinach leaves
Spirulina?

Add a cup of spinach or a few teaspoons of spirulina to boiling water. Add vinegar.

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