Yes, you can dye brown eggs! Natural dyes work beautifully with organic brown eggs, creating lovely muted colors. Try natural dyes from beets (pink), turmeric or boiled onion skins (yellow), and boiled red cabbage leaves (blue).
1. Prepare the Dyes
RED/PINK: Wash 1 or 2 beets and cut them into medium chunks. (You don’t have to peel them unless you plan to eat them later.) Boil a few cut beets in a small pot of water until tender and the water turns a deep pink. Pour liquid into a small bowl. (Save the beets for a snack -- they’re great with a little honey and Organic Valley Blue Cheese Crumbles!)
BLUE: Put a few red cabbage leaves in a small pot with 1 cup water. Gently boil until the water turns a deep blue. Pour liquid into a bowl and discard the used leaves.
GOLD: Mix 1 heaping tablespoon of turmeric with 1/2 cup water. Stir to blend.
You can also experiment with colorful herbal teas, black tea, coffee, grape juice, spinach, paprika, and even onion skins to get a rainbow of colors!
2. Prepare the Egg
Be sure to wash your hands (and any small hands involved) before handling eggs.
There are two options for preparing eggs for dying:
Hard-Boiling: Boil the eggs, remove from hot water, and cool slightly. Rub shells with white vinegar to help the shell take up the dye.
Boiled eggs are sturdier for little hands, but they will go bad if left out on display. Always refrigerate hard-boiled eggs after coloring them and eat within 5 days. The USDA advises discarding cooked eggs that have been at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Shells-Only: Alternatively, if you plan to put the eggs out on display, use a fork or skewer to poke small holes in both ends of the egg and gently blow the egg out of the shell into a bowl. (Save to scramble up later!) Rinse the shells very well and allow to dry. Rub shells with white vinegar to help the shell take up the dye.
Shells-only is a good option if you plan to display your creations. They're very fragile, though, so this method is best done with older children who will be less likely to crush them.
3. Color away!
Place eggs in bowls with dye and let sit for several minutes. The longer they sit, the deeper the color penetration. Blot eggs dry with a paper towel and arrange on a festive plate.
Step up your egg-coloring game by making patterns on the eggs! Draw pictures or write messages with a wax crayon (we recommend white or tan/brown), or apply masking or electrical tape before adding the eggs to the bowls. Then gently remove the tape when eggs are dry.
These food-derived natural egg dyes are perfectly safe, but they will stain clothing, carpet and skin. So we recommend wearing old clothes and lining your project area with newspapers or old cloths.
Keep your fingers stain-free by using tongs to fish the eggs out of the bowls. If using shells only, you can pick the eggs up using two toothpicks stuck into the two holes. Or you can even wear rubber gloves. (That said, kids may have a blast drawing pictures on their arms and legs -- why not!)
On the Hunt
Try using bright, reusable, plastic eggs filled with eco-friendly toys and organic treats for children's Easter egg hunts. Hard-cooked eggs may crack, allowing bacteria to enter and grow inside the egg, so the real ones are best enjoyed in the kitchen.
Food-grade egg dyes also work on brown eggs. Try preparing the solutions with less water for strong, rich colors. They will not mask the brown entirely; rather they will blend with the egg's natural color to create a unique, textured look.