Natural Easter Colors to Dye For
From toddlers to tweens, many children eagerly anticipate one of spring’s most pleasurable rituals: coloring Easter eggs. This shared family activity allows kids to be hands-on artists, as they choose from a palette of cheerful hues to fashion little edible treasures. But youngsters that dip their hands into synthetic dyes can absorb chemicals through the skin that have been linked with allergic reactions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and with ADHD and hyperactivity, per a 2011 report by Science News. Keep their creations healthy and chemical-free by avoiding commercial food coloring and using easy-to-make, fruit- and veggie-based dyes instead.
The simplest way to use Earth-friendly shades is to add natural materials when boiling the eggs. Some suggestions: purple grape juice or crushed blueberries, for blue; liquid chlorophyll or spinach, for green; organic orange peels or ground turmeric, for yellow; cranberries, pickled beets, cherries or pomegranate juice, for pink and red; and yellow onion skins, cooked carrots, chili powder or paprika, for orange.
Then, follow these directions: Place the eggs in a single layer in a pan and add water to cover. Add one teaspoon of white vinegar (this helps the eggshells absorb color) and the natural dye material; use more material for more eggs or a more intense color. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer the eggs for 15 minutes. Remove the eggs and refrigerate them.
These naturally colored treats, more beautiful than their artificially enhanced cousins, will mimic Mother Nature’s softer, gentler tints. For a shiny appearance, rub some cooking oil onto the eggs when they are dry. Also remember that hardcooked eggs are more perishable than raw ones, and should remain outside the refrigerator no more than two hours (so the one possibly found the day after Easter needs to hit the compost pile) and be consumed within one week.