I have experimented with using food ingredients to create more natural Easter egg dye for the past few years. After trying several different food-based dyes, I have found sticking to three primary color dyes created with red cabbage, beets, and turmeric, and then mixing them to create secondary colors works best.
Red Cabbage = Blue
Turmeric = Yellow
Beats = Pink
For perfect hardboiled eggs start with your eggs in cold water. As soon as it begins to boil set the timer for 12 minutes. They are always perfect!
As a basic formula boil roughly:
One cup chopped Cabbage,
One cup chopped Beets, and
Two tablespoons Turmeric, Per
Quart of Water.
Once the water begins to boil, turn down and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the solids out of the liquid. Add one tablespoon white vinegar per quart of strained dye. Completely submerge your eggs in the dye until the desired color is reached. I recommend overnight or for several hours in the refrigerator.
There are many other suggestions out there for food sourced dyes. I for one can only handle three pots of boiling liquid at a time in my life! So I stick with primary colors and then mix the resulting dye together to make orange, purple, and green.
It is much more of an experiment than an exact science. My eggs have a lot of variety and inconsistencies in the coloring.
Dying Brown Eggs
My chickens lay brown eggs, so I dyed them. The color turned out very different on the brown eggs, but I think they are beautiful. These brown eggs dyed in very rich earth tones, and not all the Easter pastels of traditional Easter eggs. So I picked up some white eggs and gave them a try. In the same jars of dye, the eggs came out very different. The difference I noticed was the strength of the shell. I boiled and dyed 13 brown eggs, not a single one cracked when boiling them. Of the first store-bought dozen I dyed, four cracked before I got them boiled, and two more cracked by the time I took them out of the dye. Only half survived! The second dozen store-bought white eggs yielded similar results. While these findings are not at all scientific, I did notice my eggs have much harder shells, even to the touch. I think this is at least in part because my chickens are free range.
Using This Method with Kids
While I love using more natural products with my little ones. This project is probably better suited for very patient or older children. My girls were really interested in the process and the resulting beautiful colors, but they were less thrilled with waiting overnight for the finished product.
If you are looking for something a little different, I have tried this method with beautiful results.