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DIYdiy projects

DIY Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

by Grace Bonney

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Samin Nosrat for the first time and it felt like we all became instant great friends. She is one of the most delightful people in the food (and all-around) community and I’m so thrilled to welcome her for a special holiday DIY. Take it away, Samin!

I grew up celebrating Nowruz, or Persian New Year, where one of my favorite traditions was dyeing eggs to symbolize fertility and abundance for the new year table, or Haft-Sin. Now, as a professional cook, I marvel at the myriad ways food affects our lives and traditions beyond the dining table.

A few years ago, I met Kristine Vejar, whose passion for fiber-based arts is wildly apparent from the moment you step into her beautiful Oakland shop, A Verb for Keeping Warm. I began wondering — could she come up with a dyeing method that would yield delicious, properly cooked eggs with vibrantly colored shells? Does it always have to be one or the other? The answer is a resounding no!

On a recent morning, we invited friends, photographer Terri Loewenthal and artist and stylist Aleishall Girard Maxon, to lend their talents to this tutorial. Terri shot everything on medium format film, and the light was ethereal that day. Aleishall’s delicate touch made everything look even more beautiful than we could have imagined.

These eggs will thrill your eyes and your tastebuds. Use them to make egg salad, radish + egg and butter sandwiches, egg and anchovy toasts, or just snack on them with a little flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

DYEING TOOLS

-Saucepan or stockpot
-Measuring cup
-Measuring spoons
-Strainer
-Funnel
-Tongs
-Mason jars
-Wire rack
-Oil

DYEING MATERIALS

-White vinegar
-4 cups shredded red cabbage (1/2 head of cabbage)
-3 cups yellow onion skins (9 yellow onions)
-3 cups chopped red beets (2 large red beets)
-1 tablespoon turmeric

Optional and luxurious: 1 teaspoon saffron threads

This recipe yields enough to dye 10-12 eggs.

Credits:

Styling: Aleishall Girard Maxon, Studio Deseo

Photography: Terri Loewenthal

Dye Tutorial: Kristine Vejar, A Verb for Keeping Warm

Samin Nosrat, Ciao Samin

1/13
The finished product. Read on for the full how-to!
2/13
With a goal to create simple recipes for food-safe dyes, Kristine drew upon basic color theory to create recipes for dyes that would deliver boldly saturated shades of red, yellow and blue. She settled on using yellow onion skins for a warm, rich, red-orange, red beets for pink, turmeric for yellow, and red cabbage for blue. Once all of the dyes were made, she created new colors by combining the dyebaths: cabbage and turmeric for green, onion skins and turmeric make a brighter orange, beets and turmeric for a dappled, lighter pink. By using mason jars in a water bath to cook and dye the eggs, she came up with a simple method for creating many colors at once. And miraculously, the eggs emerged entirely delicious from the process!
3/13
Peel the onions.
4/13
Slice the cabbage and dice the beets.
5/13
Measure and add the dye materials to individual pots.
6/13
Add one cup of water to each pot for every cup of dye material
7/13
Bring the dyebaths to a boil. Don’t feel like you have to build a fire! The light was just so otherworldly the day we did this project, we felt like it was a shame to go inside, so I built a fire in our little outdoor fire pit to cook the dyes.
8/13
When the dyebaths come to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the dye materials are soft and translucent. Keep the heat very low in an effort to discourage evaporation.
9/13
Using the funnel and sieve, strain each dyebath into a separate mason jar. Dissolve the turmeric in a few tablespoons of hot water to create a paste, then add the turmeric paste to a mason jar full of hot water to create a vibrant yellow dye. Combine dyebaths to create new colors. Red cabbage and turmeric, for example, will yield a green dyebath. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to each cup of dyebath.
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Carefully lower two to three eggs into each dyebath.
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Submerge eggs fully to achieve solid colors.
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Fill a large stockpot with a few inches of water, and place mason jars inside. Bring to a boil and hold for 5 minutes. The water in the mason jars will be hot and steamy. While heating, use tongs to rotate the eggs in the mason jars. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Achieve the most saturated colors by placing the mason jars with dye and eggs in the fridge for 6-8 hours. Take the eggs out of the mason jars. Allow to dry on a wire rack.
13/13
Oil the eggs to make them shiny and bright.

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Comments

  • Oh Samin, you’re so great, and these eggs are beautiful! However, I can’t see the full instructions on how to make the actual dye. Grace, can you check on that and fix, please? I’m “dying” to make them!

  • I don’t follow . . . . are there instructions somewhere, or only a list of ingredients? LMK. thx!

  • Wow. I’ve been following the blog for years, and this has to be my favorite entry ever. Stunning.

  • This is so cool! I want to dye eggs with my daughter, but hate the idea of wasting food. Doing this!!!

  • There are no images of each step…just the list of cabbage, onion skins etc, and tools needed…no instructions…just ads to the right of the script.

  • I assume you are starting with raw eggs–do they end up fully cooked “hard boiled” by cooking for only 5 minutes in the bath? Seems like a short amount of time to me.

  • Great post! Love the colors. We usually use brown onion skins, but the cabbage color we must try! Can the eggs be boiled first and then placed in the dye?