St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, but you can ‘go green’ this
Easter by coloring eggs with plant-based dyes, or preparing eggs
from ‘Easter-egg chickens,’ such as Araucana and Welsumer breeds,
that lay naturally colorful eggs.
The simplest colored Easter eggs come straight from the chicken.
Araucana chickens, originally from South America, lay pale blue and
green eggs, and Welsumer chickens lay fun, speckled brown eggs that
outwardly resemble chocolate. If you raise these chickens in your
own backyard, their eggs will also be better for your health. Birds
raised on a grass diet lay eggs with less cholesterol and more
vitamin E, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. See
The Chicken and Egg
for more information.
Easter eggs originated with ancient festivals celebrating the
return of spring. In the Middle Ages, people painted bird’s eggs
with fresh, springtime colors and handed them out as gifts.
This Easter try using natural materials to color your eggs. Some
dyes work best when the coloring agent is boiled with the eggs,
while others successfully stain pre-boiled eggs. For the brightest
colors, plan to let the eggs soak in dye for a few hours; if you’re
going to eat the eggs later, be sure to keep them in the
refrigerator while soaking. White vinegar helps deepen colors; for
each dye mentioned below, we added 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to
the dye solution.
Blueberry Juice ? For a light blue, soak pre-boiled eggs in
the juice from one 15-ounce can of blueberries for about half an
hour; for a darker, navy blue soak up to three hours.
Dandelions ? To turn eggs pale yellow, pick two cups of
dandelion heads, boil them with the eggs, then allow the cooked
eggs to soak in the mixture for one to two hours.
Grape Juice ? For a light violet, soak pre-boiled eggs in
enough juice to cover them completely for half an hour; soak up to
three hours for a deeper blue color.
Red Cabbage ? Red cabbage actually turns eggs blue! To
obtain a robin’s-egg blue color, fill a medium-sized sauce pan with
red cabbage leaves and boil them with the eggs. Once eggs are
cooked, remove cabbage and soak them for at least an hour.
Discovering which materials and quantities work best can be part of
the fun! We tried other natural dyes that proved disappointing,
including carrots, spinach, paprika, and cranberry juice cocktail
(the juice from crushed cranberries might work better). Encourage
children to help with the decision-making process, and be sure to
record your successes for future reference. Find more suggestions
If you have good luck with other natural Easter-egg dyes, post your