How to Naturally Dye Easter Eggs with Food

Nothing is more memorable from my childhood Easter celebrations than the plethora of eggs of every size, color, and constitution. Over the years, I have used all sorts of commercially packaged products to dye eggs in every imaginable hue. However, when I founded my international Montessori school in Japan, it became much more difficult to source those things.

Ever mindful of the fact that the young children in my care had a tendency to put anything and everything in their mouths, I wanted to make sure that this fun tradition that I was passing on to my charges remained as safe as possible. We’d already been exploring a number of different foods in our school kitchens. We’d seen the way certain ingredients were a little harder to clean from the lunch tables and from our cutting boards than others. Could it be possible that these foods that stained our fingers on accident could also be used to stain egg shells on purpose?

We set out to investigate, and had a marvelous time experimenting! In the years since, we’ve played with whatever foodstuffs might give off the most color. No matter where we find ourselves in the world, whether at Easter or any other time of year that we want to add natural colors to our food, we can always find a few vibrantly-hued items to tint our eggs (AND our fingers, AND our countertops, AND our tables . . . .).

Here’s a peek at what we found to play with this year for dyeing Easter Eggs here in Albania:

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beets for red and pink shades

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beet, turmeric, and wild blueberry soaking baths

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spinach and matcha for different greens

AND, whatever you do, please don’t shy away from using more natural or darker farm-fresh eggs that might have ivory or brown shells. We tinted some fresh village hen eggs using the same natural food dyes, and they took the color beautifully, too. In fact, we found that the speckled shells sometimes became even MORE distinctly spotted or mottled after a dip in our colorful baths!

Fresh Albanian Eggs
Our Little Sous shows off the basket of eggs he bought from our local market in Tirana, Albania.

So, the process for extracting the colors from our food ingredients is a relatively simple one. It involves a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen right now: warm water, white vinegar, and salt.

Grate, slice, dice, chop, mix, and or dissolve the colorful food item in a mixture of water and vinegar with a pinch of salt. Then, soak your hard boiled egg in the vibrant brine until it achieves the desired hue. We found that adding MORE vinegar and warmer water tends to strengthen the color’s depth on an egg shell.

Also, be sure to cover your work surface with a plastic drop cloth, if you have one. Protect your clothing with an apron. It’s also a good idea to have some warm soapy water and a cleaning sponge/cloth nearby. This comes in handy for white countertops AND hands alike (trust me on this one!).

I encourage you to experiment with a variety of ingredients from your kitchen classroom, then share the results with us in our #PLAYwithYourFood Community and on Instagram, using the hashtag #OurKitchenClassroom!

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Looking forward to seeing the rainbow of ways in which you paint your Easter Eggs!!!

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