Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs


by Lynne Vea, PCC Natural Markets Chef

Posted on April 9, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Updated Saturday, Apr 9 at 11:58 AM

This is a delightful Spring project that has been handed down through families for generations. These eggs aren't just for Easter. Many cultures have used this method to decorate eggs for special occasions. The ingredients couldn't be any simpler and the results are magical.

(Makes 12 eggs)

12 yellow onions (not red onions, which produce a grayish purple dye)
4 cups water
12  white-shelled raw eggs
Rubber bands
Various small sprigs of herbs, flower blossoms or foliage

Peel the onions and place all  of the skins in a medium sized pot. Keep the peeled onions for another use. (My family loves this time of year, because of the huge pot of Caramelized French Onion Soup that comes out of this!)

Pour the water over the skins and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, or until you reach your desired color, stirring  occasionally.  The liquid in the pan will turn from pale tea color to a deep gorgeous brick red.  This is your egg dye.

Strain the dye into a smaller saucepan, pressing down on the skins. At this point you may either color your eggs by simmering them in the dye bath for 12-15 minutes or you may do a little further decoration.

To decorate:
This method will create a relief design on the surface of egg. Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 8 inches square. Place a small sprig of herb, a flower blossom or foliage on the cheesecloth and set the egg on top of the foliage. Bring the edges of the cheesecloth up around the egg and twist in the back, making sure the decoration is pressed tightly against the front surface of the egg. (This will keep the dye from seeping under the surface of the foliage.) Secure with a rubber band and trim off any excess cheesecloth. Repeat with as many eggs as you would like to decorate.

Place the eggs carefully in the dye bath, (you may have to do this in batches) and bring the dye bath to a simmer. Cook the eggs gently for about 12-15 minutes or until the color is deep and rich.  Remove the eggs and allow to cool. Cut the rubber band off with kitchen shears and peel off the cheesecloth and the foliage, revealing your design. Allow the eggs to cool completely and rub with a little vegetable oil to make them shiny. These eggs are edible, (although slightly hard cooked) but will need to be stored in the refrigerator if you plan to eat them.