Coloring Easter Eggs the Swiss - Natural Way

How do you color Easter eggs?

I don’t know how you colored Easter eggs as a child or even if you did. Until I moved to Switzerland, I believed the only way to color an egg was to drop a tiny tab of something unidentifiable, into a plastic cup filled with strong smelling vinegar and water. The liquid turned into some fabulous primary color. My only contribution was to drop a boiled egg (mama cooked them) into the cup. Occasionally, my creative juices rushed to my brain, misleading my motor skills, as I unsuccessfully attempted to create masterpieces.

My mother-in-law gave my first Swiss Easter basket. It was smaller than the American counterpart but the Swiss chocolate bunny made up for the size.  The eggs looked as though leaves were painted on them.  She explained that the eggs were colored naturally – no chemicals. She used grass and clover to make the patterns as well as cutting up old ties to decorate the others.

The Swiss natural way? 

I think it will be easier to show you than to tell you.

The ingredients can be bought at your local drug or grocery store, found in the forest, and in your yard.  You may even find some in your pantry, or closets – no Sherlock Holmes techniques necessary. 

But let’s just go step-by-step, shall we?

What will you need?

  • White eggs
  • Your choice of natural colors – see chart below
  • White Vinegar
  • Damaged 100% silk ties, which can be cut up and boiled. (Seriously)
  • 2 – 3 liter stainless steel pot per color
  • Grass, herbs or flowers
  • Pantyhose cut into squares
  • < >Clean the eggs with a paper towel soaked in vinegar water to remove any residue.
    Choose your colors
  • Logwood/Blauholz                               turns eggs blue
  • chopped purple cabbage                      turns eggs blue
  • red onion skins                                    turns eggs lavender or red
  • yellow onion skins                               turns eggs orange
  • shredded beets                                    turns eggs pink
  • ground turmeric                                  turns eggs yellow
  • raspberries or blackberries                    turns eggs pink to purple
  • spinach                                              turns eggs green
  • Make the dye using the 4 Rule
  • 4 cups (1 liter) chopped fruits or veggies
  • 4 T. spices
  • 4 cups water (1 liter)
One T. of white vinegar per liter of dye is needed for 12 eggs.     
  • Cooking the dye
Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the fruits, veggies, or spices. Tada you have your dye.
We used Blauholz/Logwood to make blue eggs, red onion peels for red and yellow onion peels for yellow/orange.  

Do you have some old panty hose with runs in them?  Well now we have a use for them.  Cut them into squares. We will stuff the eggs into the squares, add our decorations, tie them at both ends and drop them in the dye to cook.

Decorating the Eggs

Grass and Herbs
Here are different types of grass, clover and other herbs from her garden.   The blades of grass can be laid on the eggs to form stripes, crosses and other geometric forms. Another tip, you can also use rubber bands.

Place an herb or piece of grass on the egg, wrap tightly in the hose and tie at both ends.

Place the eggs in the liquid dye, boil for 11 minutes and remove.  For intense color, boil the color and turn down heat.  Cook eggs in the color for 20-30 min.  If you leave them overnight in the color, the tone will be even more vibrant.
Another option is to boil the eggs first and soak them in the color overnight or for 24 hours.

Coloring Eggs with Silk Ties
Only 100% silk ties can be used for this technique, but as you can imagine it can produce some interesting eggs. The trick is to wrap the tie, very tightly around the egg in the pantyhose.  Otherwise the pattern is blurred.

Natural eggs are quite mat. They need some help from oil, or bacon fat to really shine.
Bravo!  Now there is nothing left but to give the eggs as gifts as did they did way back when as I described in Easter Traditions.

But most likely they will wind up on the Easter table in some form or another; as deviled eggs, egg salad or plain after you won the Eiertäschteli”.

Just make sure all have been hunted and accounted for. If not the beauty might be lost.


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