Natural Easter Eggs and Dyes

April/May 2006
http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/natural-easter-eggs-and-dyes.aspx
Both Araucana and Welsumer chickens lay naturally colorful eggs for Easter.


Matthew Stallbaumer

St. Patrick's Day has come and gone, but you can 'go green' this Easter by coloring eggs with plant-based dyes, or preparing eggs from 'Easter-egg chickens,' such as Araucana and Welsumer breeds, that lay naturally colorful eggs.

Natural Eggs
The simplest colored Easter eggs come straight from the chicken. Araucana chickens, originally from South America, lay pale blue and green eggs, and Welsumer chickens lay fun, speckled brown eggs that outwardly resemble chocolate. If you raise these chickens in your own backyard, their eggs will also be better for your health. Birds raised on a grass diet lay eggs with less cholesterol and more vitamin E, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. See The Chicken and Egg Page on MotherEarthNews.com for more information.

Natural Dyes
Easter eggs originated with ancient festivals celebrating the return of spring. In the Middle Ages, people painted bird's eggs with fresh, springtime colors and handed them out as gifts.

This Easter try using natural materials to color your eggs. Some dyes work best when the coloring agent is boiled with the eggs, while others successfully stain pre-boiled eggs. For the brightest colors, plan to let the eggs soak in dye for a few hours; if you're going to eat the eggs later, be sure to keep them in the refrigerator while soaking. White vinegar helps deepen colors; for each dye mentioned below, we added 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to the dye solution.

Blueberry Juice ? For a light blue, soak pre-boiled eggs in the juice from one 15-ounce can of blueberries for about half an hour; for a darker, navy blue soak up to three hours.

Dandelions ? To turn eggs pale yellow, pick two cups of dandelion heads, boil them with the eggs, then allow the cooked eggs to soak in the mixture for one to two hours.

Grape Juice ? For a light violet, soak pre-boiled eggs in enough juice to cover them completely for half an hour; soak up to three hours for a deeper blue color.

Red Cabbage ? Red cabbage actually turns eggs blue! To obtain a robin's-egg blue color, fill a medium-sized sauce pan with red cabbage leaves and boil them with the eggs. Once eggs are cooked, remove cabbage and soak them for at least an hour.

Discovering which materials and quantities work best can be part of the fun! We tried other natural dyes that proved disappointing, including carrots, spinach, paprika, and cranberry juice cocktail (the juice from crushed cranberries might work better). Encourage children to help with the decision-making process, and be sure to record your successes for future reference. Find more suggestions on About.com. If you have good luck with other natural Easter-egg dyes, post your comments below.