With avocado season I have been inundated with avocado pits lately. Normally they get composted, however they inevitably sprout and turn in to trees– I have a decent amount (all in pots) which have grown over the years, and have given many away. I have no idea if any fruit will grow on these trees but they still make nice trees. I’ve started saving the pits to to use in my homemade shampoo, as inspired by The Rogue Ginger (this shampoo is fantastic by the way). Additionally, I discovered Avocado Stone Faces on Instagram– she carves avocado pits and turns them in to jewellery and pieces of art! I am not that talented or patient however.
Homemade avocado seed shampoo
As well as discovering uses for things I would usually compost or throw away (see also: Aquafaba) I have been researching natural dyes. It seemed logical that I would eventually turn my stash of avocado seeds in to a natural dye, and while researching I discovered that the peels could also be used in the dye. I asked my household to save up all their pits and peels for me (which took all of one day). I had an older shirt that was a slight off white colour that I don’t wear that much anymore, as I wore it heaps traveling and it ended up looking a bit dull and sad.
An avocado tree I grew from a pit
How to dye with avocado seed:
I loosely followed this tutorial here, however I have a fair bit of dyeing experience as I went through a major ‘tie dye everything’ phase when I was 15 (the hippy is strong in this one).
Making the avocado dye:
I used about 5 pits and one peel for my first attempt, these were all washed and more or less dried out before hand. Roughly chop up the pits and peels, you can grate them if you wish, I chopped mine in to decent chunks. In a large pot, simply cover the chopped pits & peels in water and bring to the boil, then simmer for a few hours. Cool and strain out the chunks, making sure to compost these.
Preparing the fabric:
While your dye is simmering, simply soak the fabric in either a salt wash or a vinegar wash, this will help the dye set. I used salt as we have a large container of it that my Mum found and had no idea how old it was, so naturally she gave it to me knowing I’d use it for something (and she was right).
Rinse and wring out the fabric and then toss it in to a bucket with the avocado dye. This is where you can get creative, if you want a darker colour leave it for longer (a day or more) and for a lighter colour only a few hours should suffice. If you want patterns, twist and tie the fabric, or leave it loose and even for a standard block colour. I bunched mine up loosely, for a subtle tie dye look, and soaked it for two days after finding the colour too light.
Once you are happy with the colour give it a thorough rinse (separately) and hang to dry on the line.
Before and After:
Next time I will use more seeds and for a more vibrant pinky colour.
Updated note: I highly recommend checking out Rebecca Desnos’ book ‘Botanical Colour at Your Fingertips’ which is now available at Auckland Libraries (thanks to yours truly).
Mangere’s Avocado Orchard:
If you live in Auckland there is a free avocado orchard in Mangere, near the airport. The orchard is part of the Otuataua Stonefields, and is owned by Auckland Council, click here for more info. I have been there twice, and had little luck so far. I first time we went around March last year however we only got a couple of small avocados, so I went again January this year and found I was too early as the avocados were tiny! Make sure you have some form of long grabber stick/pole, as the trees are really tall and you’re not allowed to climb them. The limit is 5 per person.
Let me know how your avocado seed experiments go!
Update April 2017: I have finally figured out the best time to visit, late April! The BF and I cycled over there on ANZAC day and found heaps of avocados. As we had cycled we didn’t have a fancy harvesting pole like the other people there, so we improvised…
Success at last!
If you love Otuataua Stonefields as much as I do I recommend getting behind the Protect IHUMĀTAO campagin, as the beautiful historical land is under threat of development. Follow on Facebook and join the virtual occupation.