Monday, April 6, 2009

Creative way to color Easter eggs

Coloring Easter eggs isn't something I have done since childhood, but I vividly remember dropping in the little color pellets into the very strong-smelling bowls of white vinegar each spring.

But I also know this isn't the only way to decorate your eggs. In my high school geometry class, we actually were treated to creating our own hand-blown Ukranian egg.

So I wondered, what options do I really have if my daughter and I want to decorate eggs this year? I could buy a package of egg dye, complete with stickers and plastic labels for just about every big fad out there, or we could keep it simple.

And you can keep it simple - or at least natural. There are a number of recipes on the Internet for creating natural Easter egg dye. I will warn you that many state those eggs might take on the flavor of the dye materials, so if you choose to eat your hard-boiled eggs later, this might be an issue!

You can either color your eggs as you boil them (a convenience, except that all your burners might be spoken for!) or dye the eggs cold, as you would with a traditional kit.

In general the hot method involves:
  1. Fill the pan with water so that it's about 1/2 inch over the eggs.
  2. Add one to two teaspoons of vinegar.
  3. Add the natural dye. (See below for color combinations.) Use more dye material for more eggs or for a more intense color.
  4. Bring water to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the eggs from the liquid.
  7. If you want more intensely colored eggs, temporarily remove the eggs from the liquid.
  8. Cool the dye, then cover the eggs with the dye and let them remain in the refrigerator overnight.
  9. Rub eggs with paper towel or vegetable oil for a shiny look.

The cold method involves:

  1. Boil your eggs separately.
  2. Cover your ingredients with an inch of water.
  3. Add one to two teaspoons of vinegar.
  4. Add the natural dye. Use more dye material for more eggs or for a more intense color.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Strain the ingredients out of the water and allow the water to cool to room temperature.
  8. Submerge the eggs until the desired color is achieved.
  9. You may keep the eggs in the solution overnight as long as it is refrigerated.

Colors to consider trying:

  • Blue: canned blueberries, red cabbage leaves (boiled) or purple grape juice
  • Brown: strong coffee, black walnut shells (boiled), or black tea
  • Golden Brown: Dill Seeds
  • Green: spinach leaves (boiled)
  • Greenish Yellow: yellow delicious apple peels (boiled)
  • Lavender: purple grape juice, violet blossoms plus 2 tsp. lemon juice, or red zinger tea Orange: yellow onion skins (boiled), cooked carrots, chili powder or paprika
  • Pink: beetsor juice from pickled beets, cranberries or juice, raspberries, or red grape juice
  • Red: lots of red onions skins (boiled), canned cherries with juice, pomegranate juice, raspberries, fresh beets, or crushed cranberries
  • Violet Blue: violet blossoms, small quantity of red onions skins (boiled), hibiscus tea, red wine, or purple grape juice
  • Yellow: orange or lemon peels (boiled), carrot tops (boiled), celery seed (boiled), ground cumin (boiled), ground turmeric (boiled), chamomile tea, green tea, ground cumin or marigolds

Most of what I've read suggested using those old canned goods or beyond-old spices you really hadn't touched anyway or leftovers. No one cares if your produce is wilted for this! And use a lot for an intense color.

We may end up trying this project this weekend. The results, I'm sure, will be interesting!

Sources to learn more:

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