Brighten up Easter with natural egg dye

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

In just a few days the Easter bunny will be hopping down the bunny trail.

Along with his annual visit, coloring eggs is a favorite activity for many families.

Many of us purchase egg dyeing kits, but you can also use natural ingredients to get colorful results. Ingredients like fresh beets, yellow onion skins and fruit juices can be used to dye eggs.

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Here’s a list of natural dye sources and the colors they produce:

— Fresh beets: pinkish red

— Yellow onion skins: orange

— Spinach leaves: pale green

— Red cabbage leaves or canned blueberries: blue

— Strong brewed coffee: beige or brown

— Grape, cranberry, pomegranate or beet juice: gray/purple/red

— Golden Delicious apple peels: green/gold

To dye eggs, start with hard boiled eggs. If you plan to eat them, hard-boiled eggs should be cooled quickly after cooking and stored in the refrigerator until used. They should never be held at room temperature for longer than two hours.

Choose your desired color and place the natural dye in a pan large enough for water to be one inch above the dye material. Bring the water to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the desired color is achieved. Remember eggs will be a lighter color than the dye mixture.

Remove the pan from the heat and strain the dye into a measuring cup.

Add two to three teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of strained dye.

Pour the mixture into a container deep enough to completely cover the eggs. Place the eggs in liquid and wait until desired color is achieved.

Remove the eggs from the mixture and dry naturally. Remember, naturally-dried eggs will have a dull finish, but you can rub them with cooking oil to make them shine.

If you plan to eat the dyed eggs, be sure to use food-grade materials or dyes for coloring. Make sure no cracks develop in the eggs as these leave openings for bacteria, which can result in illness.

If you are going to eat eggs that have been used in an egg hunt, hide the eggs in places away from dirt, moisture, pets and other possible sources of bacteria. Do not hunt these eggs longer than two hours.

Eggs can be washed and either eaten immediately or put back in the refrigerator within two hours. Use them within one week of cooking.

You may also want to add eggs to your Easter table in this  asparagus ham quiche:

— 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

— 1 cup finely chopped ham

— 1 small finely chopped onion

— 2 (8 inch) unbaked pie shells

— 1 egg white, slightly beaten

— 2 cups shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

— 4 large eggs

— 1 container (5.3 ounces) plain Greek yogurt

— 1/2 cup 1 percent milk

— 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

— 1/4 teaspoon salt

— 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 4 to 6 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place ham and onion in a nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat until lightly browned.

Brush pie shells with beaten egg white.

Spoon the ham, onion and asparagus into pie shells, dividing evenly between the shells.

Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese over the mixture in each shell. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, yogurt, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Pour egg mixture over the top of the cheese, dividing evenly between the shells.

Bake uncovered in a preheated oven until firm — 25 to 30 minutes.

Allow to cool approximately 20 minutes before cutting.

Yield: 16 slices. Nutritional Analysis: 200 calories, 11 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 14 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugars, 10 g protein.

For more Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud asparagus recipes, visit our web page at

Jennifer Howard is the Clark County Extension Agent for family and consumer sciences.