Inspired by Food Network Magazine (April 2011)
Growing up, we dyed Easter eggs all kinds of ways. (Zach's mom, especially, loved trying out unconventional dyes and designs.) If you can do it to an egg -- Paas, glitter, tie-dye, crackle-finish, ombre, marbling, shrink-wrap sleeves with cartoons of Peter Cottontail -- we probably did.
But we'd never thought of dyeing eggs using household food items until we saw a feature in the current issue of Food Network Magazine, which suggests using things like turmeric, Kool-Aid and Red Hot candies to tint eggs for Easter.
Inspired, we opened up our own pantry to see what we could find.
As the Food Network Magazine feature says, any food that will stain your clothes will probably make a good dye for eggs. With that in mind, we ransacked our cupboard, spice cabinet and fridge for stain-worthy dyes. Here's what we pulled out:
- turmeric (also used in the Food Network Magazine feature)
- blueberries (ditto)
- pomegranate juice
- instant espresso powder
- canned beets
- sherry vinegar
- cherry and sour-apple Dum-Dum lollipops. (Full disclosure and to clear our names: We grabbed these at the grocery store expressly for this experiment. Dum-Dums are not a pantry staple at our house.)
Turning the ingredients into a dye is easy: Just boil 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, add your "dye" (the mag suggests 2 tablespoons of turmeric, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, and so on), and simmer for 15 minutes. Place each egg into a mug and pour the dye over.
Some of the dyes we tried worked better than others. Here are some of our faves:
Probably the most successful overall, the turmeric gave us the boldest dye color of any ingredients we tested. Warm and sunny yellow, it makes for a beautiful Easter egg.
We love the pretty pastel hues rendered by the Cherry Dum-Dums and the blueberries. They're delicate and spring-y. (Although we have no idea why or how the blueberry-dyed egg ended up striated this way, we actually think it's rather pretty.)
We picked the sour-apple Dum-Dums specifically because we had trouble finding anything green to use as a dye. (Clay wisely slapped Zach's hand away as he was reaching for a dusty old bottle of Absinthe in the liquor cabinet.) Oddly, though, the sour-apple pops rendered a dye the color of a robin's egg. We actually made this batch of dye too strong, and the first egg came out a bit sticky.
As for the instant espresso? It's true that coffee-brown isn't the first hue that comes to mind when you think of pretty Easter eggs. But it's a nice, consistent color that we actually like...even if it does just look like the brown eggs we typically get at the farmers market.
What about the other dyes we tried?
Well, they weren't as successful:
The rest ended up as variations on a theme of "Splotchy Beige." We were really surprised that the beets and the pomegranate juice didn't render well. Both of those are so intensely-hued that we thought they'd make great dyes. The Sriracha was sort of a lark, but we did expect it to dye the egg a little. As you can see, it only gave us the faintest sprinkling of orange.
We suppose you could argue that the malt-vinegar egg is pretty. And it is -- just maybe not the best thing in an Easter basket.
We had a great time dyeing these eggs. It's a super fun experiment and one we think would be a hoot to do with little kids.
What about you? Ready to scrounge around in your cupboard for Easter egg dyes? What do you think might work well?
- What to do with all those eggs after Easter? Here are some great ideas for using up leftover eggs -- and none of them involve egg salad!
- Here's a slideshow from Food Network Magazine that shows you how to make dyes with different pantry items -- experiment for yourself!