Botanical Easter eggs, coloured naturally!

DIY: Egg dyeing for Easter with natural dyes

by Silja / 30. März 2023 / Culinary World / Tradition

Botanische Ostereier, natürlich gefärbt! © Silja Parke – Wilde Möhre Blog

Make your own Easter eggs with botanical patterns & dyes from nature!

Easter with its many Easter traditions in Salzburg is approaching in leaps and bounds and with it, of course, the dyeing of eggs is firmly connected! Synthetic dyes are often used for this purpose. They provide strong, bright colours, but there is another way!

Plant dyes from nature can be used wonderfully to dye eggs. Different plants and parts of plants can be used to make the colouring broth in which the eggs are finally cooked. Dyes can be obtained from roots, leaves, flowers or fruits, for example. Naturally coloured eggs have paler, more delicate colours and look much more natural. If you look around in nature in spring, you can find comparable shades there.

By using freshly collected leaves of spring herbs, you can add a very pretty and decorative botanical pattern to the eggs. Dyeing with natural plant dyes and applying leaf patterns takes a little time, but it"s well worth it! The moment alone when you lift the egg out of the brew, peel off the leaf and a very individual little work of art is revealed each time is very special!

Ostereier färben Naturfarben © Silja Parke – Wilde Möhre Blog

Each egg is unique

I have been dyeing with natural colours for years. Every year, one egg is more beautiful than the next and no two are alike, each one is unique. These natural Easter eggs decorate the Easter table without kitsch and are beautiful eye-catchers. They can be wonderfully integrated into the Easter decoration made of natural materials and also make a good Easter gift in the nest.

Last but not least, with natural colours you don"t have to worry about possible harmful ingredients. That alone is a good reason to take your time, because that"s what it takes, and let your creativity run free.

In this article, I will tell you how to dye Easter eggs yourself with natural vegetable dyes. Before that, I"ll talk a little about the symbolism of eggs and the story of how egg dyeing came about in the first place.

The symbolism behind it - an Easter custom in Salzburgerland.

Dyeing eggs at Easter is an old custom. The egg is a symbol of the resurrection. In Christianity, it also appears on pictures of the Virgin Mary in the background or as a marginal motif as a reference to the virgin birth.

At about the same time as the beginning of spring, the angel Gabriel predicts to Mary on 25 March (the Annunciation) the birth of the child Jesus on 24 December, nine months later. With him, the "bringer of light" is born at the time of the winter solstice. Now in spring, around Easter, the light manifests itself clearly and nature offers us a picture of fertility, abundance and growth.

Frühling © Silja Parke – Wilde Möhre Blog

Red eggs in particular traditionally have a high symbolic power. From a Christian perspective, the red stands for the blood of Christ at his crucifixion and is at the same time a reference to the divine power of resurrection into the world of the living.

Rote Ostereier © Silja Parke – Wilde Möhre Blog

Red eggs are therefore generally associated with birth and the power of life, just as the blood pulsates in the veins of the living and as now in nature the life forces are just bursting and fill us with great respect and admiration. So it is no coincidence, the egg symbolically stands for fertility and for the victory of life over death, which we hereby acknowledge and honour and at this time can also observe in nature through the resurgence after winter.

Did you know? By the way, the green leaf pigment chlorophyll is closely related to our red blood pigment haemoglobin. The two substances are almost identical in structure. Chlorophyll is therefore also called "green blood". The only difference between the two substances is that chlorophyll has a magnesium molecule in the centre of its chemical structure and haemoglobin has an iron molecule.

How egg dyeing came about

During Lent, which used to be observed much more strictly than today, animal foods were omitted from the menu. Since the hens continued to lay eggs, a considerable supply of raw eggs accumulated during the fasting period. To preserve them, they were boiled. To distinguish the boiled eggs from the raw eggs, they were dyed.

Instructions: Dyeing eggs with natural colours

Traditionally, eggs were dyed with natural colours provided by available plants and vegetables. For example, dried onion skins, dried blueberries, beetroot (rhona), elderberry juice, green spinach leaves or nettle can be used. Nowadays, turmeric root or turmeric powder is also available, which is good for yellowing.

Botanische Ostereier, natürlich gefärbt! © Silja Parke – Wilde Möhre Blog

Different parts of the plant can be used to make a colouring broth in which the eggs are finally cooked.

Dyeing with natural plant dyes still works wonderfully in the past and it is not necessary to buy food dyes that may contain dubious ingredients such as azo dyes. These are synthetic dyes that are suspected of being carcinogenic, bad for allergy sufferers and probably promote ADHD.

In a nutshell, in my opinion, a natural lifestyle and artificial food dyes don"t really go together here either, even if it"s "only" the eggshells we colour with them. But I"m sure we"ve all seen that such colours can also partially penetrate to the egg white and colour it as well. If you still don"t want to do the work, you should definitely make sure that you buy one hundred percent natural egg dyes. In organic markets, you can find colouring tablets made from purely vegetable and natural colours.

Eggs naturally coloured with onion skins

Eier Packung


12 eggs as light as possible
12 pieces of an old nylon pantyhose cut into suitable pieces (approx. 15 x 15 cm, alternatively a very thin cotton fleece can be used.
some kitchen twine for tying
Some pretty leaves for the plant pattern - do not use poisonous plants!!!
Peels of 6 red onions (it is best to save the peels early and put them aside)
1.5 litres of water
2 tablespoons vinegar, at least 5%
some vinegar to rub the eggs

Botanische Ostereier, natürlich gefärbt! © Silja Parke – Wilde Möhre Blog

The leaves are attached to the egg with nylon stockings. Structurally rich, deeply cut leaves are particularly suitable, e.g. mugwort, nettle, dandelion, wild strawberry, yarrow, cranesbill, meadow chervil and wormwood.

How to dye eggs with onion skins:

Add 2 tbsp. vinegar to 1.5 litres of water.
Bring the onion skins to the boil with 1.5 litres of water.
Cover and simmer on a very low heat for another 30 minutes (so that the liquid does not evaporate).
In the meantime, prepare the eggs. First rub the eggs with vinegar. The colour will then stick better to the eggs and the vinegar can also be used to remove the stamping ink.
Then moisten the leaves (so they stick better) and place them on the egg.
Then pull the stocking/fleece tightly over the egg, adjust the leaf again if necessary and tie it. It takes a little practice to do this well.
When the broth has turned a nice brown colour, strain it and boil the eggs in it for 10 minutes.
Remove the eggs from the pot after 10 minutes and remove the stockings and plant leaves just before they dry. If you do this too quickly, the colour will run into the plant pattern; if you are too slow, the leaves will be difficult to remove from the egg.
When the eggs are dry, they can be rubbed with a cooking oil, e.g. olive oil, or traditionally with a bacon rind to give them a nice shine.

Other colour variations: Easter eggs in green, purple/blue, red and yellow.

The following colour variations work according to the same principle as the instructions above with the onion skins. You can also simply colour the eggs without a pattern. With patterns, however, they are particularly decorative.

Green with nettle

Botanische Ostereier, natürlich gefärbt! © Silja Parke – Wilde Möhre Blog

Grind 300 g fresh nettle leaves (collect the tender tips now in spring) with 500 ml water briefly in a blender - do not blend very finely, the leaves should still remain chunky. Place in a saucepan and add 1 litre of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Then simmer gently for about 30 minutes and strain the green stock through a fine-mesh sieve. The eggs can now be cooked in this coloured broth for 10 minutes, they will turn light green. For this colour variation, you definitely need light-coloured eggs.

Tip: The nettle residue can be used as fertiliser in the garden and simply lifted under the soil or added to the compost.

Purple/Blue with Blueberry

Botanische Ostereier, natürlich gefärbt! © Silja Parke – Wilde Möhre Blog

Gently simmer 20 g dried blueberries or 125 g frozen blueberries (from the previous year) in a saucepan with 1 litre water for 20-30 minutes, covered. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve and cook the eggs in the broth for 10 minutes. Use the small blueberries with the blue-purple flesh (Vaccinium myrtyllus) that grow in our forests and not the cultivated blueberries with the pale flesh. The best results are achieved with light-coloured eggs. If you use frozen blueberries, you get a bright violet tone, if you use dried blueberries, you get more of a brownish violet.

Tip: If you don"t want to throw away the cooked blueberries, you can use them in energy balls or muffins, for example.

Red with Beetroot

Rote Bete Canva

Cut 2 large beetroot roots into cubes and simmer with 1.5 litres of water and 1 tbsp vinegar, covered, for 40 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve and cook the eggs in the broth for 10 minutes. Light-coloured eggs should be used to achieve a beautiful colour result.

TIP: I achieved the bright red, varnish-gloss colour by evaporating a small amount of beetroot juice and then brushing the eggs with the thickened colouring liquid after dyeing.

Botanische Ostereier, natürlich gefärbt! © Silja Parke – Wilde Möhre Blog

Yellow with turmeric

Add 20 g turmeric powder with 1 tbsp vinegar to 1 litre water and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Strain and boil the eggs in it for 10 minutes.

Egg pecking

For this fun Easter custom, you need dyed and hard-boiled eggs. It is a duel between two opponents. Each person chooses an egg in the colour of their choice. With the egg in their hands, they take turns hitting the opposing egg with the pointed side. The winner of the duel is the one whose egg remains intact.

Eier pecken - NatĂĽrliche Farben

Spring recipes and much more from nature

Please have a look at my author page of the PUCH MAGAZINE, where you will find a number of articles about nature and herbs as well as nice recipes to try out. In my book Ganz schön wild, published by Cadmos Verlag, you can also find a lot of valuable wild herb knowledge.

I hope that my contribution has whetted your appetite for naturally coloured Easter eggs and I wish you lots of creative fun and a happy and relaxing Easter with your loved ones.

Yours sincerely, Silja

Alias Wilde Möhre

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