Monday, March 25, 2013

Our All-Natural Easter Egg Dyeing Experiment/Fiasco

Ready to make some naturally-dyed Easter Eggs? I sure was! I had heard all about the evils of regular food dyes and was sure I could make a wonderful post about how simple it would be to dye your Easter eggs with common ingredients that wouldn't compromise your health.

I was sure the post would go viral*, flood the Internet, make me wildly famous and rich and I'd suddenly be making appearances on all the major networks and be getting mail trucks full of mail from moms thanking me for saving their kids from doom.
*My husband thinks it's funny that bloggers actually want something to go viral, he says it sounds pretty bad to him. 

Okay, my illusions were a little lot over the top. Sometimes I get a wee bit carried away. Maybe.

Anyway, after actually dyeing our Easter eggs with natural dyes, I'm convinced this post won't go viral. Read along and you'll see why. 

Dye your Easter Eggs with Natural Ingredients

First, to dye your eggs, you need to gather your ingredients. 
I kept it simple: canned beet juice to make red, turmeric to make yellow (saffron apparently also works), and red cabbage to make blue or purple.

 The kids help cut up the cabbage. (Hopefully I'm not a bad parent to let my five-year old use a knife. Sometimes I worry. And then I worry about worrying. And now I'm off on a tangent, so I'll just stop right now.)

Then I put about half a cup of water in the bowl with the cut-up cabbage and put it in the microwave for a couple minutes. (Alternatively you can heat it up on the stove, but I thought microwaving might be a little easier, and I was all about easy natural food dyes.)

 Meanwhile, we mixed a little turmeric in with some water and poured the beet juice into a cup. (Yes, I know that using canned beets instead of fresh beets was taking a major shortcut. That sounded good to me.)

 Here's the result of our cut up, microwaved red cabbage. (If that came in a can, I'd be tempted to buy it too, especially for dyeing Easter eggs.)

 I had read that if you add baking soda to the cabbage juice, it turns it blue. Wow, we could get two colors out of the cabbage! Then we put the eggs into the different cups and let them sit for a few minutes. We took them out, and this is what we got:

Blah! Not much color! The cabbage juice hardly did anything, the turmeric was barely yellow, and the beets looked just slightly orangish.

Oh boy, this wasn't turning out like I hoped. I thought for a minute. What could I do to make the colors more intense? Maybe vinegar would help. I put a tablespoon of vinegar into each cup. The cabbage juice turned color (which will soon be the subject of a separate science experiment post!).

Then I put eggs back into the cups and let them sit for three minutes, getting the following results (the eggs farther from the cups):
 The beet juice had improved, but nothing else. In fact, the turmeric looked worse.

I couldn't figure out what to do. So I did what I often do when I am in the depths of despair, at my wits end, looking for a good time (ha, ha)...I went on the Internet.

I found this beautifully photographed blog that had gorgeous Easter eggs. It inspired me to do two things: heat up the colors I hadn't yet heated up (turmeric and beet juice). The heat made a huge difference for the turmeric, and it started turning eggs yellow in just a few minutes. The other thing I learned that using natural dyes means it takes a l - o - n - g time. Like overnight. Another blog told me 10-20 hours for the eggs to pick up the colors.

For goodness' sake, I'm not going to wait 20 hours to dye a single egg. You have got to be out of your mind! (Instant vision in my head of my brain as a raw egg, and that raw egg bursting.)

I was a little past frustrated. So I did what any good mom would do: I plopped a few eggs in the colors and gave the rest to my kids with crayons and told them to color them and make them look nice. Crayons are non-toxic, right? (I sure do hope so, because if I have to start making my own crayons, I may just go over the edge).

We ended up with a very nice batch of eggs. And I just might even give natural dyes a try again next year, because by then I may have very well forgotten how I felt this year.


Dessert Survivor said...

I am so worried. Worried, worried, worried.

John Mosley said...

Rest assured and don't worry. Your name is a household word in countless dozens of households. :)

Alica said...

:) It was fun trying, right? I never did this...I've probably scarred my kids' livers or something by using the bad stuff!

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