When I first started getting eggs from my own backyard chickens, I didn’t feel the need to decorate them come spring and Easter time. In fact, I was proud that I had my own naturally decorated eggs, the delicate blue, green and suntanned-brown eggs looked gorgeous simply placed in a bowl. But after several years of displaying eggs au naturel, I’m having fun exploring the possibilities of using natural dyes to color eggs. I am thrilled by the depth, colors and designs I can get from dyeing and decorating my backyard flock’s colored eggs.
I prefer using all natural dyes when decorating my homestead eggs, as the results are spectacular and occasionally unpredictable making it lots of fun. Follow the chart below to create your own dyes from common ingredients. White, brown or colored eggs can be dyed. White eggs produce the most intense colors while brown eggs produce a deeper and richly earthy version of each color. Light brown eggs will yield a stronger color than darker brown eggs. I’ve found that holding brown eggs overnight in dye in the refrigerator produces a deep brilliant color.
Front Row L to R: Beets; Red Cabbage; Turmeric
Back Row L to R: Red Onion Skins; Red Cabbage and Turmeric; Yellow Onion Skins
L to R: Red Cabbage and Turmeric; Beets, Red Cabbage
For those of you who like the ease of using the little bottles of food coloring most kitchens contain, you’ll be surprised at the vibrant color your brown eggs will produce. They color quickly in the commercial dyes and the results are unique. (See the first photo in this post.)
I also like using natural herbs and plants to decorate my eggs. Just paint a little egg white on leaves and flowers using a tiny paintbrush and gently press them on the eggshell. Let them air dry and display, or dip the eggs in dye to produce a reverse stencil effect. Any assortment of plants will work although I’ve found soft leaves work the best. Also, don’t forget that empty eggshells, whether naturally colored or dyed, make delicate flower containers to use as individual bouquets at the table or on the windowsill.
Natural Egg Dye Chart
Directions: Combine the recipe ingredients in a heatproof cup or bowl. Let stand at least one hour until room temperature; strain through a fine strainer reserving the liquid. Let eggs sit in dye until desired color is obtained. Gently pat dry, do not rub hard; store dyed eggs in the refrigerator. If dyeing eggs overnight, make sure to place the eggs in dye in the refrigerator.
Tips for Dyeing:
Make sure your hands are clean and grease-free.
Wash eggs in vinegar water to remove any dirt or grease on eggshells.
Once eggs are clean handle as little as possible. Use spoons to insert and remove eggs into dye.
Gently pat eggs almost dry using paper towels.
Place on drying rack if available (to make a drying rack place push pins in a sheet of Styrofoam or an egg carton)
Let stand to air dry completely before storing.
Now that you’ve enjoyed and even improved upon your flock’s colored egg assortment, here’s a recipe that not only use your hen’s eggs but are served in their gorgeous shells.Softly cooked eggs are mixed with fresh spinach and herbs, sautéed and served warm in their shells for a lovely lunch, an appetizer or as a dinner accompaniment. They are a nice alternative to deviled eggs.
4 large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Dash freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter
Place eggs in a small saucepan and barely cover with hot water. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer 6 minutes; place in ice water until cool enough to handle.
Using a small sharp knife, carefully cut each egg through the shell lengthwise in half. Scoop out the yolks and most of the egg whites into a bowl, leaving the shells intact. Coarsely chop the eggs with a spoon and stir in the spinach, dill, chives, salt and pepper. Carefully mound the mixture back into the eggshells.
Melt the butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the eggs, shell-side up, 2 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm.