why not

Maybe Dye a Shirt With a Beet?

Photo-Illustration: Klaus Hicker/Getty Images

If I told you that you could at once have a beautiful new dusty-pink shirt and a prepared beet, would you believe me? (No way, you’re thinking.) Well, have I got news for you.

The other day, I boiled a beet to use in a beet salad. I know I should have roasted the beet for a better flavor, but I’d never prepared a beet before, so I didn’t know that until I looked it up later online, and I guess if you’re such a genius about beets maybe you should go write your own blog post about them instead of immediately interrupting mine??

Anyway, I’d cut the top off of the beet pre-boil, and the bottom, because I didn’t know what I was doing (you only need to cut off the top). I then filled a small pot with water and brought it to a boil, letting the beet boil, fully immersed, for about an hour. After the hour elapsed, I found that the beet, newly soft and edible, had bled a bunch of pink beet juice into the water, leaving it quite pleasing to behold.

I didn’t have the chance to think about what I should do with this beautiful beet water (turn it into a lip tint, like Shailene Woodley?) before fate decided for me: As I attempted to pick up the beet with a fork, it fell off of the fork back into the beet water, splashing my white shirt and the surrounding area with its elegant pink hue.

Oh fuck, I thought. Oh damn it! Immediately I took out the beet (successfully), removed my shirt, and threw it right into the pot in a burst of angry defiance and bold creativity. I left it in for about three hours and returned to find my white shirt had turned a charming shade of pink. It was now my new pink shirt:

Photo: Kelly Conaboy

I left it to dry in front of a window for a few days on a dog crate, which was wrong, as it left a crate pattern on the back of the shirt, then washed it with detergent in the bathtub until the water ran “clear” more or less. The water, while washing, was so pink that I was worried I was going to wash all of the color out of the shirt. It didn’t, but it would still behoove you to clean up any spills or splashes immediately, so you are not forced to remember the time you dyed one of your shirts with beet juice every time you see the stains in your bathroom.

After dyeing my beet shirt, I read a few articles about how you’re supposed to dye a shirt with a beet. They recommended several things I did not do, like: (1) cutting the beet into large chunks to expose more of its flesh to the water and get a deeper hue, (2) using more than one beet, (3) letting the shirt sit in the beet water for up to 24 hours, and (4) ironing it once its dry, to set the color.

You can take these steps into consideration when you dye your own beet shirt. I do think that cutting the beet into chunks before boiling it would sacrifice the quality of the beet as a post-project food item (make it a little blander), but maybe that doesn’t matter to you. I wish I’d known to iron mine, but I’m going to iron it now just in case it will still help.

I recommend dyeing a shirt with beet water. It gives you two wonderful things: a new pink shirt and a beet. I have to warn you, though, that once you dye one shirt with a beet, you may want to dye other things. Your white curtains, your other white shirts, your white pants. Why do I even have white pants?, you might find yourself thinking.

Please, don’t give in to this temptation. You likely do not want a full wardrobe of beet clothing. One beet shirt is enough. It’s very nice, in fact.

Maybe Dye a Shirt With a Beet?