Your kitchen is full of natural dyes. Common food items such as red cabbage, onion skins, and coffee can be used to transform plain white eggs into a rainbow of colors. Kids will especially love discovering all the different colors they can create—let them experiment using hard-boiled eggs and bowls of cold dyes.

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Read step by step instructions after the video.

Naturally dyeing Easter eggs is an earth-friendly way to celebrate the holiday, and makes for a gorgeous Easter table centerpiece when placed in a teak wood basket ($78, shopterrain.com). This method involves boiling the eggs with the dye; the heat allows the dye to saturate the shells, resulting in intense, more uniform color. With the cold-dipping method, the eggs and the ingredients for the dye are boiled separately. That alternative produces subtle, translucent shades, but can result in uneven coloring unless the eggs are rotated vigilantly while in the dye. For hollow eggs that will last indefinitely, cold-dip raw eggs, then blow them out after they are dyed.

To make natural dyes, the materials needed can often be found in your pantry. Red-cabbage dye is made of four cups of chopped cabbage. To make the yellow-turmeric dye, use three tablespoons of turmeric. Meanwhile, the onion-skin dye uses four cups of onion skins—skins from about 12 onions. The beet dye calls for four cups of chopped beets, and the coffee dye uses one quart of strong black coffee, instead of water.

Color Glossary

Natural dyes can sometimes produce unexpected results, so don't be surprised if, for example, your red-cabbage dye yields blue eggs. Use the following guide to help you achieve the colors you desire.

Deep Gold: Boil eggs in turmeric solution, 30 minutes.
Sienna: Boil eggs in onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Dark Rich Brown: Boil eggs in black coffee, 30 minutes.
Pale Yellow: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes.
Orange: Soak eggs in room-temperature onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Light Brown: Soak eggs in room-temperature black coffee, 30 minutes.
Light Pink: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution, 30 minutes.
Light Blue: Soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 minutes.
Royal Blue: Soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution overnight.
Lavender: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 seconds.
Chartreuse: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature cabbage solution, 5 seconds.
Salmon: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.

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What you need

Materials
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How to do it

Part 1

a carton of eggs and a pot with an orange powder mixture
Step 1

Select a dyeing agent, and place it in the pot using the color glossary listed above. Add one quart water and two tablespoons white vinegar to the pot. (Note: If more water is necessary to cover ingredients, proportionally increase the amount of vinegar.) Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Allow the ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into a bowl.

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whisking an egg in a pot with orange dye
Step 2

Drop raw eggs in a pot of strained dye. (Tip: Slip a single egg into the whisk, prying open the wire loops to cage it safely inside. Using the whisk, dip the egg into the dye.) Bring to a boil for the amount of time specified in our color glossary, as little as five seconds or as long as overnight, depending on the depth of color you desire. 

Step 3

Remove eggs with tongs, pat dry with paper towels, and let them dry on a rack. (Optional: Natural dyes tend to fade over time, so finish any eggs you plan to keep with a matte or gloss acrylic spray varnish. To create an egg-spraying stand, stick a six-inch length of wire into a block of Styrofoam; prop a hollow egg onto the wire through one of its holes.)

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