There is more than one way to make use of fading veggies like old spinach leaves. Although most gardeners put a high value on composting kitchen detritus, you can also use past-their-prime fruits and veggies to make homemade dye.
Spinach as dye? You better believe it, but not just spinach. You can also make dye from orange peels, lemon ends, even the outer leaves of a cabbage. These dyes are easy, eco-friendly, and really cheap to produce. Read on to learn how to make spinach dye.
Making Dye with Spinach
The first step in making natural spinach dye (or dye from any other veggies or fruits) is to gather a sufficient amount. You’ll need at least a cup (240 mL.) of spinach or another plant product. What products can you use? Beets, turmeric, and red cabbage are all good choices. So are onion skins and lemon peels. Just be sure to thoroughly clean them prior to use.
Your choices will be determined by what you have on hand and what color dye you are interested in making. If you want a deep green, you can’t do better than making dye with spinach.
There are a couple methods for making spinach dye and both are quite easy.
- One involves blending the material with hot water. To make natural spinach dye using this method, chop up the spinach (or other veggie or fruit product) and put the chopped pieces in the blender. Add two cups (480 mL.) of hot water for every cup (240 mL.) of spinach. Then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth lined strainer and add a tablespoon (15 mL.) of table salt.
- If you want to know how to make spinach dye without a blender, simply chop up the spinach or other veggie pieces and place them in a small saucepan. Add twice as much water as you have spinach, bring it to a boil, then allow it to simmer for an hour. Once the product has cooled, strain it well. Then you can start using spinach to dye fabric.
Using Spinach to Dye Fabric (or Eggs)
The best way to create long-lasting dyed clothing is to first use a fixative on the fabric. You’ll need to boil the fabric in salt water (1/4 cup (60 mL.) salt to 4 cups (960 mL.) water) for fruit-based dyes, or one cup (240 mL.) vinegar and four cups (960 mL.) water for veggie-based dye like spinach. Boil for one hour.
When done, rinse the fabric in cold water. Squeeze it out, then soak it in the natural dye until it reaches desired color.
You can also use the plant dye with kids as a natural coloring for Easter eggs. Simply soak the egg in the dye until it reaches the hue you desire.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
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