We love being invited to join an Easter egg hunt with our Pagan and Christian friends (it’s a tradition they both enjoy, albeit with different meanings). It’s not our holiday, but it’s great fun to be included in the celebration. Thanks to our happy backyard hens, we have plenty of eggs; this year we set aside two dozen to dye and share.
I always intend to use natural dyes on our eggs, but the egg dyeing day always manages to sneak up on me. Next year, I’ll try to plan ahead and use the wonderfully detailed directions I just found at Blossoms and Posies.
For this past Easter, though, we were left with what we had on hand: 2 dozen eggs in various shades of brown and blue-green (our flock includes a few Easter Eggers) and a few rather old bottles of liquid food coloring left over from craft projects gone by. We go out of our way to avoid foods with artificial coloring, so it always feels wrong to use the stuff on our hens’ eggs, but since the dye doesn’t soak through unless the shells are cracked, I suck it up and deal with this bit of cognitive dissonance each year.
Fresh eggs don’t have enough air between their shells and their inner membrane to peel well, so it’s best to let them age for a few weeks before hard-boiling them. Our eggs had been in our fridge for around 3 weeks, and they were still rather difficult to peel cleanly. This has me wondering anew about just how old the supermarket eggs that do peel well really are. If you’re interested in more about the science behind peeling eggs, Wired has more information here.
We used 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, and 20 drops of liquid coloring in each of our dye cups. We let freshly-boiled eggs sit in the dye for about 10 minutes, then lay them out to dry. The colors were much more stable on the shells than what we’ve had in years past with those grocery store egg-dying kits (those colors sometimes peel off in strange sheets).
We wrapped one dozen with rubber bands before dyeing them, just for variety’s sake. The blue-green eggs were especially beautiful when soaked in the blue and green dye, although I have to say that I love them even more when they’re not dyed, just in their own naturally colored shells. I save a carton of those for our Passover seder and my annual reading of “Season of the Egg” by Marge Piercy (my kids will have it memorized by the time they lead their own seders) – I’d post it here, but it’s not my poem to share. I believe it’s included in Pesach for the Rest of Us, and it’s also on page 40 of The Velveteen Rabbi’s Passover Haggadah.
If you have any experience coloring brown eggs with natural, home-made dyes, please let me know – I’d love more tips for next year.