by Brittany Wright, media and outreach specialist
photo credi: Love + Cupcakes
Coloring eggs is one of those special kitchen projects that provides a fun opportunity for kids to take an active role in making a healthy treat while expressing their creativity and learning about nutrition! Making your own dyes from naturally healthy ingredients adds an extra layer of fun and even more opportunities for informal nutrition education. As you progress through the project with kids, take a moment to talk about the nutritional value of each ingredient or allow for taste testing!
Fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and even tea can produce a wide spectrum of colors. Blueberries, grapes and red cabbage produce blue and rich purple hues. Beets, cranberries, and various berries provide red and pink. Better Home & Gardens has a great all-natural dye guide with more colors.
To begin, prep the eggs by rinsing them of any particles that could stick to the shell or interfere with the dye. Boil the eggs in a pot of cold water with a pinch of salt. Let the eggs come to a boil for about a minute, then remove from heat and allow them to cook in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. Place the boiled eggs in a bowl to cool off before coloring them.
To prepare the dyes, boil approximately two cups of the ingredient with water in a small saucepan. Once boiled, allow the mixture to simmer until it’s turned a shade slightly darker than what you’d like for the eggs, about 20-30 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool. Using a strainer to filter out the veggies or fruit, pour the dye into a bowl and add a couple of teaspoons of white vinegar. Add the cooled eggs to the dye mixture and let them soak in the refrigerator until they’ve become the color you’d like. Let the eggs soak overnight for the deepest color.
The blog world offers bunches of fun and creative variations on this idea. The folks over at Dream Whites created beautifully speckled eggs by mixing grape juice and vinegar and leaving the eggs in the solution overnight, while Sarah Gillingham-Ryan from The Kitchn dip-dyes some nice bright eggs and reminds us that the effect of the dyes varies depending on dye concentration, egg color, and how long the eggs are immersed in the dye. Paola at Love + Cupcakes offers lovely photos of eggs she creates with different veggies and spices. Create your own variations and have fun!