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Easter Egg Colorings from Nature...Not a Lab

I recently came across some old notes from my great-grandmother, scrawled in faded pencil on a scrap of paper and tucked inside a book.  This past weekend, as I fretted over Easter plans, I reached for an old cookbook to look over a WWII era recipe for potato candy (that is another post, I promise) which was popular during that era of food rationing, and the scrap fell out of the book and onto my kitchen floor, like a whisper, and I--a great believer in "signs"--decided that it was old knowledge meant to be shared.

I have read more and more lately about the speculated dangers of food dyes so, in light of Easter...

 ...and all those eggs just begging to be tinted, this little nudge from Grandma seemed particularly timely.

Long ago, before Super Centers and Red 40, there was (presumably) someone who thought to him or herself, "You know, this bit of animal hide that I am using to cover my loins would be so much more attractive in a nice lavender hue."  ...and thus natural colorings were born (or something to that effect).

At any rate, nature gave us some perfectly awesome natural ways to color food, clothing, etc., without the dreaded Red 40.  So, on the off chance that you might want to color your eggs without the artificial nastiness this year, I am sharing some of Grandma's wisdom:
  • RED:  grate 2 c. red beets, add 1 tbsp. vinegar and 2 c. water and boil 20 minutes.  Let cool before using.
  • YELLOW:  4 c. yellow onion skins, add 1 tbsp. vinegar and 3 c. water and boil 20 minutes.  Let cool before using.  (Note:  you can use 3 c. dried chamomile flowers in place of onion skins, if available.) 
  • BLUE:  2 c. blueberries, crushed, add 1 tbsp. vinegar and 2 c. water and boil 20 minutes.  Let cool before using.  (Note:  I tried this with one 16 oz. bag of frozen blueberries I had in my freezer--because, honestly, if I had fresh blueberries I would rather just eat them--and it worked beautifully.)
  • LAVENDER:  3 c. red cabbage, add 1 tbsp. vinegar and 2 c. water and boil 20 minutes.  Let cool before using.  
You can mix the primary colors to make other colors, as well.  

If you decide to try the natural coloring, check back and let us know how you thought they compared to the man-made poison colorants.

Life with my Aspie  – (April 7, 2011 at 12:17 AM)  

That is fantastic knowledge. Thank you for sharing.

Emily  – (April 8, 2011 at 11:08 AM)  

very cool! i love natural dyes! i just recently checked out a whole stack of books on this subject. my only experiment so far has been dying muslin with elderberries.

Devouring the Seasons  – (April 8, 2011 at 11:25 AM)  

How did the elderberries work? Angela and I had wondered about mulberries. They are in abundance around here, and they definitely work for staining hands...should you ever want purple hands. Oh, and mouths...my kids always have purple mouths when mulberries are in season. I would think it would work well for other things, too, though...you know, actually crafts!

MrsSpock  – (April 9, 2011 at 8:46 PM)  

What a great idea! I'll have to post this on Facebook.

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