Natural Easter Eggs and Dyes

Stephanie Lingafelter
April/May 2006

Both Araucana and Welsumer chickens lay naturally colorful eggs for Easter.
Matthew Stallbaumer


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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.








Post a comment below.

 

raven forest
9/28/2007 12:00:00 AM
Well, eggs don't really need to be refrigerated when they are not cooked. They can last weeks at room temperature. In Europe, they don't put eggs in a cooler at the grocery store, they just have them on shelves. Also, we have always coloured our eggs with onion skins, but first we wrap rubber bands around them for interesting lines and leaves from fresh spring growth for nice patterns. If you use the leaves, you just take a length of old nylon (from nylon tights) and place the egg with the leaves placed against it, and tie it in there and cook with the onion skins as usual.

abba_2
4/15/2006 12:00:00 AM
Hi E.Kline, I wrote the paragraph right above yours. The only way the flavor can get into the egg is if it cracks while cooking..then the dye can seep in. That can be a unique experience sometimes! Not only will you get a hint of beet flavor, or other food dye flavor...the cracks can add to the decoration! When you boil the eggs in the food dyes, or just in plain water,sometimes they crack while cooking. With eggs boiled in dye baths, those that cracked during cooking will reveal a wonderful mottled design on the egg inside, once the peeling has been removed. Also...I forgot to mention that the eggs go into the dyes raw and are boiled in the dye for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the eggs cool in the dye, then take them out and refrigerate.

Elizabeth Kline
4/15/2006 12:00:00 AM
Hi:) I have read about making dyes for eggs for awhile now. A question for those of you who have tried it: does the flavors of natural things used ever seep into the egg and cause it to have a flavor? Thanks a bunch...liz

JODY Oaks
4/11/2006 12:00:00 AM
My mother and her mother used to color eggs for Easter by boiling them in water with dry skins from yellow onions. It makes them turn a rich reddish brown shade. They would then polish them while still warm in a dish cloth with a small amount of shortening on it. They also of course would leave the eggs out in a bowl all week long too at room temperature. To my knowledge no one ever got sick, but it's not a risk I'm willing to take these days.

ma kettle_1
4/11/2006 12:00:00 AM
I've used natural food dyes on my Easter eggs for years. Beets are a wonderful dye and you end up with a really pretty pink egg..let the eggs soak in the beet juice for a couple hours and you'll get a gorgeous fuschia color. Spinach leaves work great for a nice grass green color, turmeric gives them a beautiful golden yellow, strong coffee on a brown egg makes them look like milk choolate eggs...perfect for those brown eggs. I've found that the trick is to either wipe or give the eggs a quick dunk in vinegar before dying them...it helps the egg to absorb the color and they'll have deeper prettier colors. Also, letting them soak at least a couple hours...even overnight in the frig, will produce more vibrant colors.








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