You know those things you see on Pinterest that look awesome when someone else does them, but you’re pretty sure they’re going to be a total disaster when you try them? These Sunprint-style eggs dyed with red cabbage were firmly in that “Likely Pinterest Fail” category for me.
“This can’t possibly work,” I thought. But, my son was clamoring to dye eggs for Easter, and I happened to have a red cabbage languishing in the crisper, and they just looked so pretty. I had to try.
I’m shocked how well these eggs turned out. They took a while, but each step was really simple. And in the end – not a Pinterest Fail at all.
Here’s how you make ’em.
Step 1: Make Natural Dye With Red Cabbage
Just chop up a red cabbage, core and all, and put the pieces in a medium saucepan. A 4 or 6-quart pot works well. I have something close to this.
Cover the cabbage with water and bring the water to a simmer. Cover the pot so the cabbage water doesn’t evaporate away, and continue simmering for about an hour, until the water is deep purple.
Strain out the sad grey cabbage pieces and return the cabbage water to the pot. You’ll probably have 6 or 8 cups of natural dye, but the total amount doesn’t matter too much. Set the dye aside for Step 3.
Step 2: Prepare Your Eggs
While the cabbage is simmering in the water, carefully prepare your eggs. Make sure the smoother (usually upper) portion of the leaf is facing the surface of the egg.
Set out strips of ripped up old pantyhose or cheesecloth. Set the leaf on the pantyhose, then the egg atop the leaf. Pull the pantyhose snuggly around the egg, so the leaf is held very firmly in place. Tie the pantyhose so it stays put around the egg. Try to get the knot on the opposite side of the egg as the leaf.
Holding the pantyhose securely and tying the knot was the only tricky part of this whole thing. I had my 11 year old tie the twine while I held the pantyhose and that really helped – so get the kids involved in this!
Step Three: Dye Your Eggs
We’re just going to pretend that we are making hard boiled eggs, but as if we don’t care if they turn out pretty overcooked.
Add your prepared eggs and 3 tablespoons distilled vinegar to the saucepot with the dye. Put the eggs leaf-side down in the dye. The dye should fully cover the eggs. If it doesn’t, you might need to move your eggs and dye to a smaller pot.
Bring the eggs and dye to a bare simmer over medium heat. Let the eggs simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and put a lid on the pot. Let the eggs sit in the cooling dye bath for an hour.
Step 4: Color Check
At this point, check your egg color. Carefully pull an egg out of the dye bath. Don’t unwrap the pantyhose yet, but look at the color. It should look distinctly blue to blue-grey, depending on the starting color of your eggs. If the eggs look great to you, set them on a towel to dry without unwrapping them.
If they look pale blue or just barely tinged, return the color-check egg to the pot, then move the whole pot of eggs and dye to the fridge. Refrigerate for several hours, or up to overnight. When the eggs have achieved a deep blue color you like, transfer them to a towel to dry for at least an hour before unwrapping.
Step 5: Unwrap (The Great Unveiling!)
Just snip off the pantyhose and pull off any leaves clinging to your eggs. If the eggs aren’t completely dry, give them a bit longer before handling them.
And You’re Done!
Mine turned out a gorgeous steely-blue color, not the brighter blue of my Pinterest inspiration, but I love them. I just wish we had made more than 4 eggs.
Go make some natural red cabbage dye, hunt around your yard for cool leaves and make these. Promise me you’ll use them in some kind of awesome Easter centerpiece or display? These things are way too pretty to hide.
- 1 head red cabbage
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 4 to 8 raw, large white eggs
- Several intricate, soft leaves such as chervil, fern, or parsley.
- Portions of old pantihose or cheesecloth
- Chop cabbage and add to a 4 quart saucepan. Cover cabbage with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lid cabbage and continue to simmer until the cabbage water is deeply purple, about 1 hour.
- Strain the dye bath of the cabbage pieces and return the cabbage water to the saucepan.
- While the cabbage water is simmering, press soft leaves against eggs and hold in place firmly with a section of nylon pantyhose, or cheesecloth. Tie the pantyhose snuggly around the egg so the leaf is held firmly against the eggshell.
- Carefully lower the eggs into the dye. Add the vinegar, then bring the eggs and dye to a simmer over medium heat. Bring the eggs and dye to a bare simmer over medium heat. Let the eggs simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and put a lid on the pot. Let the eggs sit in the cooling dye bath for an hour.
- If you like the color of the eggs at this point, remove the eggs but do not not unwrap. If you prefer a darker color, refrigerate the eggs in the dye bath for several hours and up to overnight.
- When the eggs have achieved your desired color, set them on a clean, lint free towel to dry for about an hour before unwrapping or handling.
- Remove the pantyhose or cheesecloth and the leaves carefully, and display.