I never made it to Target this week to buy egg dye.
Every Easter as a kid, mom and I would be dying our brown eggs from our chickens with the Paas and she would say that, in a pinch, food coloring with water and vinegar would get the job done.
I’m in a pinch.
Thursday I found a nice round-up of dies from kitchen staples. DYI dye is the new black.
Seems adding two tablespoons white vinegar to just about anything will turn it into dye.
I could not fathom using good blueberries (fresh or frozen) for dye so I sent a note a few neighbors asking if anyone had old frozen blueberry dregs. A quarter bag turned up – perfect.
I rummaged through the fridge and pulled out remnants of late-summer pickled purple slaw and quick-pickled beets from last fall – both perfect for egg dying.
I mixed up some turmeric (using half for eggs is a good excuse to replace it in a few months so to keep it fresh).
I dumped our espresso grounds into some hot water and added vinegar.
I poured a cup of cranberry juice and added vinegar.
I squirted green food coloring into about a cup of water. Added vinegar.
We dyed brown eggs.
Dyed brown eggs look like old Polaroids. To drive his point home, I gathered all my Hipstamatic shots from this morning to make this all even more washed out. If Hipstamatic drives you nuts, you can experience our egg dying morning here without any photo effects.
If you want cute pastels – use white eggs. Period.
If you just want to dye eggs, use whatever eggs you prefer.
Some Notes for Dying with Toddlers:
1. They aren’t good at waiting. It isn’t fun. Watching eggs sit in dye isn’t fun. Dying eggs is fun.
2. Make it active by adding paint brushes, small cut up rags or sponges cut into small pieces. (How small? If your kid puts everything in their mouth, don’t cut them down to choking size. Duplo block size is great.) Have enough “brushes” so each dye can have a few of its own to reduce (or at least delay) crossing the colors.
3. You just made dye, which is basically watery paint, or watercolors. Gather some scrap cardboard, cut into single smallish pieces (cereal boxes, internet shopping boxes, shoe boxes) or brown paper and “paint” a few pictures while eggs sit in dye. We made “Easter cards.”
4. Keep it moving. Everything should be within your reach but doesn’t need to be within toddler reach. Eggs that are done dying get whisked away from the dye to dry. You can always bring some eggs back for a second dip (or third or fourth).
5. A toddler holding something is happy. Those cut up sponges are wildly satisfying – let them squish and play. A few crayons are great. The toddler(s) can color with crayons on an egg while you move a few things along (or eggs steep). The dye doesn’t stick to the crayon wax so it’s added decoration (and good for busy hands).
6. If you like things orderly, let them manage one or two dyes at a time by placing them close and the others just out of reach. Give them a task with the dye at hand, “Keep painting it! Looking good! Roll it around in the dye!” Take advantage of a toddler’s infinite capacity to repeat an action.
7. Wear old clothes – you and the kids. A smock will be useless against homemade egg dye. I wore old painting jeans and showed Bunny how it was OK to get dye on them. She wore old hand-me-downs.
9. Do it outside if possible.
10. You are doing this with a toddler/preschooler – it does not matter if the eggs come out a mess. They will love it and the Easter Bunny will still hide them.
What Worked/Failed for Dying Brown Eggs:
1. Blueberries!!! The blueberries were a frozen block when I thudded them into the saucepan. I probably had 1.5 – 2 cups and I added about a cup of water. I heated it to melt the frozen block them simmered for a bit. I “strained” it lazily with a wooden spatula then added the vinegar. This was THE most fun dye, really inky and effective. It dyed purpleish. (Elderberries would have been pure inky magic but I couldn’t imagine parting with my frozen ones for egg dye.)
2. Juice from old pickled red cabbage and juice from pickled beets – worked well. Pinkish.
3. Green food coloring – ace.
4. Turmeric. I mixed 2 TBS to 1 cup boiling water and made brilliant yellow muddy paint. It was super fun but didn’t really tint the brown eggs. I have no idea why it wasn’t very effective. It was worth doing just for the fun use of it.
5. Spent espresso grounds added to hot water and vinegar- lame. I was too hurried to brew super strong coffee and add vinegar.
6. Cran-Apple juice with added vinegar – lame. Grape juice would have worked great.
I loved this whole thing. It was super hands-on, it was perfectly messy outside and it pretty much just cost me the eggs since I scavenged the dye makings.You can even make the dyes a few days ahead.
Oh, wait, you can’t. Tomorrow’s Easter!
Even if you just make food coloring dye, it’s fun and you can make more when it gets knocked over.
Post-publishing Additional Notes on DIY Dying BrownEggs:
If you don’t have time to mess around, have never made your own dye and want eggs that look dyed and not just different shades of brown, then skip the make-it-yourself yellows, oranges and browns. Head straight for making blues, purples, greens, reds and pinks.
It’s not that brown eggs won’t take yellow, orange or brown dye (they do!), it’s just they’re kind of already that color. If you try red, purple, blue, green, pink and your dye isn’t very effective, it will still give some color to those brown eggs and your efforts won’t be all for not.