Forgot your Easter egg dying kit? Naturally dye your own eggs at home! Many fruits and vegetables that we eat get their color from pigments called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins can range in color from yellow and orange to red or purple, and they’re water soluble, so they can be easily extracted and used as dyes.
Here are a few good sources of anthocyanins for dyeing eggs that you might already have in your kitchen:
- Purple cabbage (chopped)
- Onion skins (red or yellow)
- Beets (shredded)
To prepare the dyes, you’ll need one cup of your chosen material (or 2 tablespoons powdered turmeric) for each cup of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and let cool. Divide into containers and add 1 teaspoon of vinegar for each ½ cup of dye.
Place hard boiled eggs in the dye and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Layer colors or make deeper colors by removing the egg and letting it dry, then putting it back in the dye again.
Anthocyanins are sensitive to pH, so you may notice a change in color when you add the acidic vinegar to the dye. With purple cabbage, the color will go from purple to pink! Egg shells are alkaline, and the change in pH can affect the final egg color. An egg dyed in cabbage juice will come out blue!
Combine dyes to get more colors, or use a mix of white and brown eggs for even more variety.
- For blue eggs: purple cabbage and white eggs
- For green eggs: purple cabbage and brown eggs
- For lavender/red eggs: red onion skins and white or brown eggs
- For orange eggs: yellow onion skins and white eggs
- For pink eggs: shredded beets and white eggs
For a fun science activity, use your extra dye to experiment with the effects of pH by adding vinegar or baking soda!