Appalachia Holidays in Appalachia

Dying Easter Eggs


The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore has this to share about dying Easter eggs:


Easter eggs may be died yellow with Hickory bark. (Zilpha Frisbie)

Take bark or old walnut hulls and boil them in water. Then strain off the water and you have a brown dye. My grandmother used to make this dye for dyeing yarn. She also used it for coloring Easter eggs. (Eleanor Simpson)

I’ve read of using onion skins to dye eggs as well as beets, strong coffee, and turmeric.

Seems like we tried using red onions once when the girls were little. Most of the time we used the store bought stuff or food coloring to dye eggs, same as Granny did when I was little.

Since two of our hens lay green eggs I get to have Easter eggs year round which is pretty cool.


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  • Reply
    lynn legge
    April 3, 2018 at 10:02 am

    tipper I think the eggs are beautiful..and a bowl of green eggs would be lovely…hope spring finally gets here…on Saturday night we got 3 inches of snow…grrr thankfully it melted now it is raining…..I guess its good for gardens..i do hear the doves and robins and it warms my heart….have a wonderful week..sending love and ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    My wife loved to dye Easter eggs with her kids. Not just her flesh and blood kids but anybody’s kids. She was just a big kid herself. Many times I’d ask “Whose kid it that?” When she would tell me, I still didn’t know. Just some kid that need a “Nana” or “Nonnie” as some called her. We helped raise half the county, I think!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Daddy had plenty of chickens that run free and I didn’t know what store-bought eggs were someone mentioned them in High School. I always thought they were brown and the Yoke had more of a red color.

    But a few years ago a friend brought me a couple dozen of fresh eggs. They were those Green Ones but he convinced me they were Cholesterol Free eggs. I don’t know for sure if that was his
    Sales Pitch or not, but I’ve been eating the white-store bought kind so long, I’m use to it now.

    I usually have two eggs a couple times a week, they taste so good, sometimes I have three. …Ken

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 31, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Ron Stephens thoughts on plant-based dyes were somewhat similar to mine. Yellowroot would probably work quite nicely. I wonder about bloodroot as well. Both are available at the right time of year. Pokeberries and oak galls, on the other hand, belong to the late summer and early fall and would have to be saved for a half a year to be used. I personally lean towards blue and green as favored colors. Probably the prime producer of blue is the indigo plant, but I’ve got to believe that blueberries and maybe elderberries would work. It isn’t blue, but the stain from mulberries is pretty (and devilishly difficult to remove. I’m tempted to try a small portion of a frozen container of blueberries to see what happens, but then I pause and ponder–what business does a seputagenarian have fooling around with Easter egg dye experiments? Jim Casada

  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 9:43 am

    One year I got trendy and used shaving cream with a few drops of food coloring. The colors were both muted and bold and marbelized. Very pretty. However, we couldn’t eat them because they stunk to high heaven of menthol.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Never used plants or any organic dyes but remember as a kid, using food color mixed into a mug of water and a teaspoon of vinegar. Tones could be varied dramatically as long as you had H2O, vinegar and enough food color. If memory serves, we used hot water. That and the vinegar set the die. Lots of fun !! Oh yes, we used wax to crest designs on the egg as the die could not penetrate the wax!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 31, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I have never used natural dyes for anything but I’ve always wanted to sometime. My Grandma said folks long before her day used oak galls to make ink so I expect they would dye also. And yellowroot might make a soft yellow. Then there are pokeberries. I seem to recall reading somewhere that red was the hardest color to come by. But isn’t there more to it than just the color? Doesn’t there have to be something to ‘set’ it and make it color fast?

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paul
    March 31, 2018 at 7:34 am

    I have also read about dyeing eggs with plants I was never brave enough to try it

  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 6:09 am

    I sometimes dye yarn the same way as Eleanor Simpson’s grandmother 🙂

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