Kids in the Kitchen: Natural Dyes

natural-egg-dyeEaster brings with it the tradition of dyeing eggs. While you can use commercial dyes, they often contain artificial colors that are derived from petrochemicals. Switching to natural colors made from fruits and vegetables can be a fun, hands-on experience for the whole family.

Any richly colored fruit or vegetable will give you some degree of coloring in eggs. Popular fruits and vegetables for making natural dyes include beets, oranges, spinach, red cabbage, yellow onions (skins), and red onions (skins).

The process for making natural dyes is the same, regardless of which fruit or vegetable you use. To make your natural dye, finely chop or shred the fruit or vegetable matter. In a stainless steel pot, boil six quarts or more of water (enough to cover all the eggs you will color). Add the prepared dye matter to the water and bring back to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes. Test the color by viewing it in a white bowl. The finished dye will be two to three shades lighter than the liquid color. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Once cool, strain the mixture to remove all of the vegetable or fruit material. Mix in one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of dye liquid. Gently place room-temperature hardboiled eggs in the dye bath. Let sit until desired color is achieved. Dry carefully on an upturned egg carton.

If you would like to learn more about using natural dyes, stop by the Chequamegon Food Co-op on Thursday, April 10 from 3 to 6 p.m. for our Kids in the Kitchen: Natural Dyes demonstration.