Natural Egg Coloring
Dyeing Eggs Naturally
The tradition of dyeing eggs goes back to medieval times when people made pace eggs to celebrate spring and Pasch, the original name given to Easter or Passover.
Your kitchen is full of natural dyes. Common food items such as red cabbage, onion skins, and coffee can be used to transform plain white eggs into colorful Easter gems. Kids will especially love discovering all the different colors they can create - let them experiment using hard-boiled eggs and bowls of cold dyes.
Easter Eggs - 40 Fabulous Projects for the Whole Family
Natural Egg Dyes
Tools and Materials
Natural dyeing agents (red cabbage, turmeric, onion skins, beets, and coffee)
3-quart pot (or larger)
Large metal spoon
Select a dyeing agent, and place it in the pot using the amount listed below. Add 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar to pot; if more water is necessary to cover ingredients, proportionally increase the amount of vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Allow the ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into a bowl.
Red-cabbage dye: 4 cups chopped cabbage
Turmeric dye: 3 tablespoons turmeric
Onion-skin dye: 4 cups onion skins (skins of about 12 onions)
Beet dye: 4 cups chopped beets
Coffee dye: 1 quart strong black coffee (instead of water) Cold-Dipping Method
With this method, the eggs and the ingredients for the dye are boiled separately. Using a metal spoon, lower cooled hard-boiled eggs into a bowl of cooled dye, and let them soak for as little as 5 seconds or as long as overnight, depending on the depth of color you desire. Remove eggs with spoon, pat dry with paper towels, and let dry on a wire rack. The cold-dipping method produces subtle, translucent shades, but can result in uneven coloring unless the eggs are rotated vigilantly while in the dye. For hollow eggs that will last indefinitely, cold-dip raw eggs, then blow them out after they are dyed.
This method involves boiling the eggs with the dye; the heat allows the dye to saturate the shells, resulting in intense, more uniform color. Set raw eggs in a pot of strained dye; bring to a boil for the amount of time specified in our color glossary. Remove and dry eggs as with the cold-dipping method.
Natural dyes can sometimes produce unexpected results, so don't be surprised if, for example, your red-cabbage dye yields blue eggs. Use the following guide to help you achieve the colors you desire.
Deep Gold: Boil eggs in turmeric solution, 30 minutes.
Sienna: Boil eggs in onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Dark, Rich Brown: Boil eggs in black coffee, 30 minutes.
Pale Yellow: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes.
Orange: Soak eggs in room-temperature onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Light Brown: Soak eggs in room-temperature black coffee, 30 minutes.
Light Pink: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution, 30 minutes.
Light Blue: Soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 minutes.
Royal Blue: Soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution overnight.
Lavender: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 seconds.
Chartreuse: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature cabbage solution, 5 seconds.
Salmon: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Do You Know?
The tradition of dyeing eggs goes back to medieval times when people made "pace" eggs to celebrate spring and Pasch, the original name given to Easter or Passover.
Display Your Dyed Eggs
This is how I decorated place settings last Easter.
Here are some other ideas:
Red Eggs for Greek Easter - the natural method
Red eggs (in Greek: kokkina avga, pronounced KOH-kee-nah ahv-GHAH) are perhaps the brightest symbol of Greek Easter, representing the blood of Christ and rebirth. We also dye eggs other colors, but rarely will a Greek Easter be celebrated without lots of red eggs. Commercial dyes are available, but this old-fashioned natural method creates red eggs with a deep rich color. The following is for one dozen red eggs. Note: It may sound counterintuitive, but the skins of yellow onions work wonderfully!
- Start with 12 medium-to-small eggs.
- Carefully remove any material clinging to the surface of the eggs.
- Make the dye with the onion skins: In a stainless saucepan, place skins of 15 yellow (Spanish) onions and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in 4 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Strain dye into a glass bowl, and let cool to room temperature. (Don't be fooled by the orange color.)
- In a stainless saucepan (around 8 1/4 inches in diameter), add the cooled strained dye and eggs at room temperature (up to 1 dozen). The eggs should be in one layer and covered by the dye.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat. When boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer.
- Dyeing time will be affected by the color of the eggs. Start checking for color at 12-15 minutes. Do not simmer longer than 20 minutes (see step 9 if they aren't red enough).
- When eggs are the right color, proceed to step 10.
- If eggs are not a red enough color after 20 minutes, leave in the pot and remove from heat. When the pot as cooled enough, place in refrigerator and let sit until desired color is reached.
- Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and cool on racks.
- When they can be handled, coat lightly with olive (or other edible) oil and polish with paper toweling.
- Refrigerate until time to use.
- Save onion skins in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Do not use any porous (wood, ceramic, plastic, etc.) materials as they can be colored by the dye.
- If stainless cookware and utensils get colored by the dye, wash with regular detergent and a small amount of chlorine. Rinse very well.
[via About.com: Greek Food]
With stencils made of waterproof vinyl adhesive tape and cut-out shapes, you can create perfectly rendered patterns on your Easter eggs. Make plaid, polka-dotted, punctuated, or monogrammed eggs, or create your own designs. Any color that you cover with tape will remain unchanged throughout the process. The instructions below are for creating the plaid egg shown at left.
Tools and Materials
Waterproof vinyl adhesive tape and stencils
Burnishing tool (available at art-supply stores)
Stenciled Eggs How-To
1. Start with a white egg or one dyed a pale color. Band the egg twice lengthwise with a 1/4-inch-wide masking tape, repositioning as necessary to get a tight fit. Firmly rub the tape with your fingernail or a burnishing tool so that the dye can't seep underneath.
2. Dip egg into dye, raising and dipping until the color deepens as desired. Blot egg with a paper towel. Let dry ten minutes. Remove tape.
3. Band the egg's width with tape at its widest point, then repeat to make smaller circles around each end. (Try alternating wide strips of tape with narrow ones.) Burnish, dye, and dry as before.
4. Remove tape. If you used a raw egg, carefully blow out contents.
Tea Infused Marble Eggs
12 jumbo eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons of black tea leaves
8 cups of water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Place eggs in a large pan covered with water. Bring water to a gentle boil. Boil for 10 to 12 minutes.
When the eggs are cooked, gently lift the eggs out of the pan and place them under cold running water for 2 minutes.
When eggs are cold, gently crack the eggshells all over by rolling them on a paper towel. NOTE: Do not allow the shells to detach from the eggs.
In a large pan, add black tea leaves, water, and salt. Place the cooked eggs into the pan. NOTE: If needed, add additional water to cover them. Bring water slowly to a boil; then cover the pan, turn off the heat, and allow the eggs to simmer for one hour.
Remove from heat and let the eggs cool in the liquid. When cool, drain and wrap the eggs in plastic wrap or a sealed plastic bag. Store in refrigerator.
Remove the shells just prior to serving. Eggs will have a marbleized appearance.
[via Ellen Easton]
Chocolate Egg How-To
We used Valrhona dark chocolate in this recipe because it is relatively easy to temper; the temperatures that are listed apply specifically to this brand.
Chocolate Egg How-To
1. Using a pin, poke a hole in the bottom of a large raw egg; insert the tip of a utility knife, and turn to open the hole slightly. Using a rotary drill fitted with a 3/8-inch bit, carefully widen the hole to at least 1/2 inch in diameter.
2. Insert pin into the hole to pierce and "stir" the yolk. Hold the egg, hole down, over a bowl, and blow air into the hole with a rubber ear syringe (the air will displace and expel the egg). Rinse out egg. Repeat to make 12 blown eggs (you may want to make extras in case some break).
3. Sterilize eggs: Submerge them in a pot of cold water with 1 tablespoon white vinegar; bring to a boil, then simmer, skimming foam from surface, 10 minutes. Let drain on a pin board. If not dyeing eggs, let dry completely on pin board, 2 to 3 days (check insides for moisture).
4. If dyeing eggs: use one of the cold methods above.
5. Using an offset serrated knife, very finely chop 3 pounds of chocolate. Reserve 1 cup chocolate; using a bench scraper, transfer remaining chocolate to a large heatproof bowl.
6. Temper chocolate: Set bowl over a pan of simmering water. Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, until a chocolate thermometer registers 131 degrees. (Note: Many brands of dark chocolate should not be heated to more than 118 degrees.) Remove from heat; stir in reserved cup chocolate until completely melted. Pour 2/3 of the melted chocolate onto a clean smooth work surface (such as marble or stainless steel). Spread thinly with an offset spatula. Then gather together chocolate, and take temperature. Continue spreading and gathering chocolate until it cools to 82 degrees to 84 degrees.
7. Scrape chocolate back into bowl with remaining chocolate. Stir until it cools to 82 degrees to 84 degrees. Set bowl over a pan of warm water, and reheat to 88 degrees. To check consistency, dip a spoon in chocolate and remove; chocolate should set in about 2 minutes, turning shiny and hard. Note: This temperature must be maintained as you fill the eggs; keep a thermometer in the chocolate, and check frequently. Rest the bowl on a heating pad wrapped in a towel, or set bowl over the pan of warm (not hot) water.
8. Place eggshells in an egg carton. Place a disposable pastry bag in a tall glass, and fold top down. Fill bag with chocolate; cut tip to create a 1/4-inch opening.
9. For solid chocolate eggs: Insert tip of bag into each egg, and fill with chocolate (about 1/4 cup per egg; fill a new bag with chocolate as needed). Let set completely, about 4 hours.
10. Alternatively, fill eggs with ganache: Fill all eggs with chocolate, then let stand 5 minutes instead of letting chocolate set. Pour chocolate out of eggs into a glass measuring cup, tapping your hand against cup to let most of the chocolate drain out (do not add to tempered chocolate). Let chocolate "shells" set completely.
11. Fill a disposable pastry bag with ganache (recipe follows); cut tip to create a 1/4-inch opening. Insert tip into egg; fill with ganache. Tap egg gently, hole up, on a folded kitchen towel to eliminate air pockets; fill to top. Continue with remaining eggs. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Ganache-filled eggs can be refrigerated up to 1 week; solid eggs can be stored in a cool, dry place until ready to serve.
To Make Ganache
For semisweet ganache, use 2 cups heavy cream and 1 pound semisweet chocolate. For milk-chocolate or white-chocolate ganache, use 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and 1 1/4 pounds milk or white chocolate. Bring cream just to a boil, then pour over finely chopped chocolate into a medium bowl. Let stand 5 minutes; stir until smooth. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface; let stand, stirring occasionally, until cool enough to pipe (no warmer than 80 degrees), 1 to 2 hours.
Note: The steps here are for tempering chocolate by hand. If you work with chocolate frequently, investing in a tempering machine will save time and make cleanup easier -- and the chocolate will be perfectly creamy, smooth, and shiny. Every brand of chocolate requires different tempering temperatures; see package instructions. For Valrhona, the following temperatures apply: milk chocolate, heat to 118 degrees, cool to 81 degrees to 82 degrees, then warm to 84 degrees to 86 degrees; white chocolate, heat to 118 degrees, cool to 79 degrees to 81 degrees, then warm to 82 degrees to 84 degrees.
Martha Stewart Easter Egg Decorating Tips
Here's a roundup of some of the best egg-decorating tips and tricks Martha Stewart hatched over the years. With her techniques as a guide, you can create treasures to dye for. ;)
Vegetarian Easter Menu & Recipes
Vegetarian Easter Menu & Recipes
When you think of Easter dinner, what comes to mind? Right, ham. Below is a vegetarian version of glazed ham along with other traditional Easter dishes that are all vegetarian safe. Happy Easter!
Green Eyes On: Get Responsible About Your Easter Eggs
It happens every April, egg sales rise just like turkeys quickly become high in demand in November. And, for years now, every November we've been getting messages about how to choose the healthiest and most eco-friendly turkey; from organic to free range to vegetarian fed and everything in between.
Well, get ready, because it's now time to take those same steps for your Easter eggs.
This Easter season, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is asking consumers to choose eggs that come from animals that were humanely raised. According to the WSPA, it's a simple yet powerful way to make a difference for the welfare of animals and the environment.
So, what kind of eggs should we look for? Sharanya Prasad, US Programs Manager for the WSPA says, "read labels on egg cartons and look for 'Certified Humane,' 'American Humane Certified' or 'Animal Welfare Approved' claims." This way you can be sure that the eggs came from chickens who were humanely raised, not on a factory farm. Prasad goes on to say that "these claims also mean the animals were not given hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics, were not continuously confined and were allowed to engage in natural behaviors."
Most conventionally raised chickens and cows (for eggs, meat and dairy foods) grow up in factory-farm environments, confined to small areas and fed a less-than healthy diet. Not only is this inhumane, causing animal suffering, but it creates huge environmental hazards. The Food & Ag Organization in the UN reports that factory-farmed livestock accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions; more than all transport combined.
Here are a handful of WSPA recommended humane egg companies, to make your Easter egg shopping a little easier.
- Born Free (Certified Humane and Cage Free and USDA Organic)
- Cyd's Nest Fresh (Certified Humane)
- Egg Innovations (Certified Humane and Cage Free)
- Eggology (Certified Humane and Cage Free and USDA Organic)
- Giving Nature (Certified Humane)
- Go-Organic Omega 3 (Certified Humane and Cage Free and USDA Organic)
- Nellie's Nest (Certified Humane and Cage Free)
- Pete & Gerry's (Certified Humane and Cage Free and USDA Organic)
- Phil's Fresh Eggs (American Humane Certified)