Wednesday, April 16, 2014

To "Dye" For....~Tanya Hanson

For every Easter of my life, I’ve decorated eggs…. Yep. Even one April, when we were in Hawaii I colored eggs –the condo had a big kitchen, and we took the finished product along on picnics at the beach. Something I can’t resist about those little glass cups brimming bright with color. My favorite part is pouring the colors down the drain when I’m done. My own particular rainbow. To this day, the scent of vinegar always evokes this much loved pastime.
But the little PAAS kits got me thinking. How did kids on the prairie dye their Easter pretties in days gone by? I thought I’d do some digging. 

First off, the child might draw a design on a clean egg with candle wax. Then comes the fun. 

Mother Nature has a beautiful pallet and plenty of “natural” ways to get the job done. These old-style tricks certainly work today. Onion skins seeped in hot water were and are a popular method of adding various shades of yellow, brown and even red. The skins can simply be added to water for soaking or boiling, or the skins wrapped around the egg with cloth. 

The juice from cooked beets can make tints of pink and red. A green leaf wrapped around an egg “leaves” behind a beautiful imprint. 

To create a marbled design, a child –and Mama; it seems to have been a project requiring more than two hands--would wrap dill or parsley around an onion-skin covered egg, tying it on with string, before boiling, afterward polishing the finished product with oil. 

Turmeric and white vinegar is said to produce a lovely yellow, and paprika with vinegar, a delicious orange. Walnut husks leave behind a rich dark brown color, and elderberry juice a lovely deep purple. Strong coffee with a couple spoonfuls of white vinegar also produces beige, tan, and brown hues.
 I learned of an old-fashioned mother re-straining the commercial “blueing” in her laundry rinse water to produce a blue tint. Blueberries and red cabbage will produce purple, my favorite Easter color of all.

For green eggs (to go with that Easter ham LOL) soak eggs in water along with four cups of fresh spinach. (One household hint said to use baking soda for this one rather than vinegar.) 
These methods all call for a ratio of one quart to two tablespoons white vinegar, and a good overnight soak before boiling. The longer the egg remains in the water, the more intense the color. Boil the eggs for ten minutes in the juices they soaked in. 

Anybody eager to give these old-time methods a try this Eastertime? 
Thanks to, Holidays Central, and The District Domestic for these down-home hints and helps!) 
Coming soon:


  1. As an "egg-dyer", I can really appreciate the research you went to in order to discover how they dyed Easter eggs out on the prairie. A lovely post, Tanya.

  2. Thanks, Sarah. I just got stuff today for the seven year old grandson and me! ...the little pills in the box stuff lol. Maybe some year I'll try the old fashioned way. I soo appreciate your comment today,

  3. How interesting, Tanya. I guess I didn't realize they dyed eggs on the prairie. Since you mentioned it, now it seems logical. Thanks.

  4. Tanya, I didn't know they dyed eggs on the prairie, either! I just never thought about it. I think we dyed eggs up until my kids were in highschool. Not to hide, just to have the fun of dying. LOL

    That's really interesting! Thanks for this post--I will have to bookmark and save--maybe one of my stories will have kids doing this someday.


  5. What a fun blog post. Very interesting. I always thought of the past time as something rather modern.

  6. Hi Cheryl, people from the past sure were innovative, huh? I think I don't give them enough credit.

    Ciara, my friend from Nebraska once died eggs for us by pressing leaves against the shell, wrap
    Ing it tight in nylon stocking material and boiling with brown onion skins. Just lovely!

    Thanks for the posts, my friends,

  7. Tanya, I haven't dyed eggs in years, but I remember what fun it was for my kids when they were little. We had it easy compared to moms in the old days. They had to make their egg dye from scratch. What a job, and how very resourceful of them.

    Great post! Thanks for coloring our Easter fun.


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