Homemade Easter egg dye is safer, prettier and way more fun than using commercial dyes. Extracting color from natural ingredients you find in the pantry or refrigerator is a science lesson and creative experience for children and artsy grown-ups alike. Use ingredients like berries, leaves and spices to produce muted romantic colors as soft as the springtime. Experimentation and creativity command the day when make your own egg dyes.
The variety of sources for making dyes is vast. Gather items from the kitchen to make the primary colors. Make reds from many fruit sources such as pomegranate, blue from blueberries or red cabbage leaves, and yellow from lemon peel or turmeric. Mix these to get secondary colors or start with new ingredients to go for the shade you desire. Orange can be made with yellow onion skins. For browns, it is coffee or tea. Spinach leaves are the way to get green. Purple can be achieved with the blossoms of violets or grape juice. Get a rosy pink with beet or cranberry juice. If a color proves difficult to achieve, grab a packet of Kool-aid and cheat a little.
Working with natural materials to make homemade dyes takes a little more patience than commercial dyes. The source material, onion skins, beetroot or blueberries for example, needs to be peeled from the plant, cut into small pieces or smashed. Boil the material with the eggs, or boil the material and then let the cooked eggs stand in the dye bath for 20 minutes or more. The method you use will depend upon the strength of the dye. Berries, beets and juices may work straight and not need to be boiled. Usually other matter, especially leaves and spices, must be boiled in water with 1 tbsp. of vinegar. When boiled with the eggs, use enough water to cover the eggs and the dye material. Add the vinegar and boil for a couple of minutes. Then reduce the heat and simmer until the eggs are cooked. When you remove them with a slotted spoon, decide if the color is strong enough or if you prefer to let them rest in the dye water until it cools. When the eggs are cool, dip them in the cooled dye again to achieve a stronger color.