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Connecting You with Your Food, Farmers and Community

Dye Spring Colorful

Food science is so fun! Especially when using food and plant pigments. Did you know by changing pH, I can make red/purple cabbage turn blue or green? (Hint: baking soda.)

This opens up an opportunity for decorating with natural dyes. Eggs take natural dyes just as well as commercial dyes you can buy. Have patience, though, as it takes longer to achieve color, and colors will be more muted, but still very interesting.

We tested these and other foods and plants with success! See what colors you can produce.



Beets (sliced, cubed, or shredded)

Light pink

Yellow onion skins






Curry powder



Pale yellow


1. Per every 4 cups water, use 2-4 cups food, 2-4 Tbsp spice, or 1/4 cup herb or plant.
2. Add water and dyestuff to a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer.
3. Add desired number of raw eggs to saucepan once dye water reaches a simmer.
4. Cover and let simmer 10-15 minutes. Carefully stir mixture as needed to coat eggs. Remove eggs to clean wire rack or paper towel to dry.

Eggs will hard-boil in this method. If you want to eat later, refrigerate eggs immediately once they dry and eat within a few days. Otherwise, leave eggs at room temperature and do not eat. They will dry out over time.

Remember that eggs will dye several shades lighter than dye water. Adding 1 Tbsp of white vinegar per cup of dye water may help enhance color.

Photo credit: Jennifer Schultz Nelson, University of Illinois, 2015

Recipe Corner

Scrambled Egg Muffins (Serves 6)

No need for a fork. Eat these eggs like you would other muffins.

2 cups washed vegetables, diced (broccoli, red or green bell peppers, onion)
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray.
2. Add chopped veggies to the muffin tin.
3. Beat eggs in a bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
4. Pour eggs into the muffin tin and bake 20-25 minutes. To add cheese, remove the tin from the oven during the last 3 minutes of baking. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the muffins and return the tin to the oven.
5. Bake until the temperature reaches 160°F or a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 100 calories, 6g fat, 230mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 9g protein

Source: Iowa State University Extension, Spend Smart. Eat Smart blog, 2014

Horticulture Corner

Thanks to all those who attended the "Color Your Spring, Naturally" class this April.  We had a great time making these beautiful centerpieces to house our dyed eggs.

Photo credit: Caitlin Huth, University of Illinois, 2015

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