Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

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Artificial colors can be the cause of many negative reactions when they are ingested into our bodies. Some children and adults become hyperactive, irritable, aggressive, inattentive, or have other symptoms known to stem from artificial colors made from petroleum-based additives.

For Easter this year, consider naturally dyed Easter eggs. While you don’t actually eat the dye on Easter eggs (as you might with other dyed foods) since you’re only coloring the shell, there are still very important reasons to use natural dye. First, eggs often get a little cracked during the process of dying (especially when children are helping), and dye seeps into the egg white – that would end up being ingested. Also, children dying eggs will get artificial dye on their fingers, it absorbs into their skin and can cause a reaction. Further, by going natural and making your dyes at home, you are not supporting companies in the “artificial food” business. And, it’s a really fun science experiment to take ingredients from your kitchen and make them into natural dyes.

Let’s get started.

You boil your eggs and cool them first, then separately prepare your dye and color them.

First, hard boil eggs

Be careful to not overcook them. When they’re overcooked they take on a characteristic green yolk and sulfur smell. There are many ways to make hard boiled eggs; though my favorite technique ensures consistent hard-boiled eggs every time – so the yolk is not green.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, lower the heat slightly for a few moments (so it’s not an aggressive boil) but still very hot and ready to go (too much jostling or heat can cause the eggs to crack). Turn the heat back up and start the timer once you have the eggs in the pot, not once it returns to a boil.

Cook on a low simmer for 10-12 minutes. This is for large or extra large eggs, if you are using medium eggs, decrease the cooking time a minute or two.

I make dozens of hard boiled eggs for traveling to conferences, camping, or to make deviled eggs for parties – so I’ve experimented a lot. Cooking time depends on how you like your eggs cooked, the full range I use is from 8-13 minutes. Sometimes, I like my eggs with a bit of slightly “gooey” yolk in the center – if so, I boil them for about 8 minutes. Anything more than 13 minutes and you will have green yolks. Most people, especially for Easter eggs, prefer 10-12 minutes.

Plunge to Cool

Once your eggs have boiled for the appropriate amount of time, the next crucial step is to plunge them in cold water a few times to cool them quickly. If you leave them sitting in the cooking water, or even hot water that was changed out only once, your eggs will keep cooking and may turn green.

Dying Eggs

The process is fairly similar for all colors. You will combine water, the dying medium, and some vinegar and simmer until complete.  Then add eggs to dye. Below are some recipes for colors and more thorough instructions.

Pink/Magenta Color

3 medium beets, grated or chopped small
¼ cup of white vinegar
1 quart of water 

Blue

3 cups red cabbage, chopped
¼ cup of white vinegar
1 quart of water 

Yellow

3 Tablespoons of ground turmeric powder
¼ cup vinegar
1 quart of water

Simmer dye mixture for 30 minutes. Strain out dying medium and pour liquid into a pot or bowl. Once liquid is cooled to body temperature or room temperature, add already cooked hard-boiled eggs. Soak in dye liquid for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours or even overnight. I tend to do 1-2 hours depending on the color.

Additionally, you can mix colors like using some cabbage and turmeric liquid for a green color, or coffee for brown eggs.

You can also use naturally brown and green eggs for beautiful colors without the fuss.

If you have extra leftover Easter eggs, check out my recipe for Deviled Eggs.

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Hi, I’m Julie Matthews, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, Author, and Published Researcher. I teach parents and practitioners that children with autism, ADHD, and related disorders can improve and heal, and that there’s hope for their children. Then I educate and empower them to make strategic dietary changes that positively affect children’s health, which in turn helps their learning and behavior. With 18 years of experience and my unique range of knowledge, from nutrition research and clinical experience to cooking in the kitchen for my own family, I’ve created a much-needed community for parents and practitioners looking to help children with autism live happy, healthy lives. Join us.

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