Do not run away, dear reader! (Or hop, if we’re going with the holiday theme.) Making organic Easter egg dyes takes a little work but is well worth the effort. The colors come out more earthy and mellow than your standard dye-tablet ones. It’s extra great because you can use things in the fridge or freezer that you were getting rid of anyway, and you can compost the ingredients when you’re done. I found the basic idea for these colors on Organic.org, but many of them are from bloggers who took that methodology and added their own twists.
The most important tips I found: Using frozen or canned ingredients can be more economical if you don’t plan on snacking as you go! Fruits should be mashed up. Experiment with quantities as you go. The longer the egg stays in the dye, hot or cold, the deeper the hue will be. Using vinegar will also help the color deepen. Naturally dyed eggs will take longer to absorb color than conventionally dyed eggs. Be aware that dye ingredients may infuse the egg with their taste- luckily most of these are fruits!
You’ll need several pots and bowls, egg cartons for drying the dyed eggs, and (optional) stickers, string, rubber bands, leaves, and/or crayons for decorating the eggs and making interesting patterns. Shot glasses also work great for double colored eggs. To put patterns on your eggs, wet a leaf or other desired shape item, apply to egg, and carefully wrap egg in a piece of old pantyhose. Secure with a twist tie before placing in the dye bath to keep your pattern secure. Unwrap after you remove the egg from dye, and remove the item used for your pattern to reveal your design.
The method described in the recipe is the hot method, which produces darker, richer results. If you are making these with kids or plan on eating them immediately, most sites agree that the cold method is preferred. It’s the same as the hot method with the following exception: Once ingredients have simmered 20–30 minutes (depending on desired shade), lift or strain the ingredients out of the water and allow the water to cool to room temperature. Submerge the eggs until the desired color is achieved. You may keep the eggs in the solution overnight as long as it is refrigerated.
From A Storybook Life
From Crunchy Domestic Goddess:
We were recently lucky enough to get a traditional Lithuanian recipe for coloring eggs using onion skins from my boss by way of a Yahoo group she belongs to, called All_Things_Lithuanian:
Fill a pot with water and place onion skins in water. In order to get the deepest coloring, wrap raw eggs in submerged onion skins so that the eggs are covered totally on all sides. Be sure that the eggs fit quite tightly in the pot with water just an inch or less above them. Do not cover the pot. Set the timer for about 20 minutes and begin to cook on a very low flame so that the eggs can cook the longest without becoming green or rubbery, usually 25 minutes or so for Extra-Large eggs. The eggs can come out in a variety of hues ranging from golden brown to a deeper nearly burgundy-brown color. After removing the eggs from the pot, while still warm, they may be polished with a piece of bacon or cloth with shortening to bring out a rich shine.
Now, you are all ready for Easter morning’s “egg cracking.” One person holds their egg point upward and the other person taps the point of this egg with their egg’s point in a downward motion. The egg that does not break goes on to challenge other’s until it also eventually cracks -sometimes it never does. It’s amazing how everyone will try to test an egg to determine if it is the strongest in the dish, some by tapping the ends of the eggs on their teeth to listen to the sound! All cracked eggs are greatly enjoyed Easter morning with homemade horseradish, homemade fresh desros (sausage), homemade Easter bread, a fruit salad and tasty cup of tea. The author, Liuda Balcius, says that this type of Easter egg is prepared in the region of Dzukija, Lithuania, and her grandparents brought the tradition with them when they immigrated to the United States.
I’m curious if the “polishing the egg with a piece of bacon” came from Lithuania, because it sounds like a very American method. As we all know, bacon makes everything better. Apparently even Easter eggs!
- Hard boiled eggs (preferably white eggs since they take on the dyes better than brown eggs)
- White vinegar (2 Tablespoons for every quart of water)
- Ingredients to make your dyes:
- RED: 3 cans of beets in cranberry juice (instead of water), cherries, or red onion skins (more than for purple)
- PINK: frozen cherries, beets, red grape juice, cranberry juice, or frozen raspberries
- RED-ORANGE: 3 tablespoons of chili powder
- ORANGE: yellow onion skins
- YELLOW: 3 tablespoons of turmeric, orange peel, lemon peel, carrot tops, or cumin
- GREEN: a mix of spinach leaves, canned blueberries and their juice and a few tablespoons of turmeric
- BLUE: 3/4 of a head of red cabbage (chopped) and/or canned blueberries
- GREY BLUE: 2 cans of blueberries and their juice
- GREY: frozen cherries mixed with blueberries
- PURPLE: red onion skins
- BROWN: strong brewed coffee
- Bring ingredients for desired color to a boil and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. (In general, use up to 4 cups of vegetable solids and 3–4 tablespoons of spices per quart of water and vinegar.)
- Strain solids out of the dye.
- Place eggs in a single layer in a large, non-aluminum pan.
- Add the dyeing ingredient of your choice—it’s best not to add the eggs until you are comfortable with the colors you perfected by experimenting.
- Cover the eggs and other dyeing agent(s) with one inch of water.
- Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar per quart to help the color adhere to the egg, and bring to a boil.
- Next, simmer on lower heat for 20–30 minutes or until the desired shade is achieved. (If you cook the eggs full blast for longer than 15 minutes, they will become tough.)