So my kids love to make colored Easter eggs. I have photos of my sister and I making eggs, so I am thinking there must be something in children that makes them instinctually want to do this.
Eggs have for eons been a symbol of fertility, rebirth and Spring, and gifting a decorated egg during the Eastertide season is a centuries old tradition. Typically, hens slow down or stop production (such a sterile word for a very UNsterile phenomena) of eggs altogether in the winter, and start laying again right around this time of year, so the association of fertility, rebirth and fecundity makes sense.
While pagans liked eggs for their lusciousness (and likely cheap, delicious nutrition), Christians associate the gift of an Easter egg with the empty tomb of Jesus (maybe more the stone that covered the tomb?). Early orthodox Christians dyed the eggs red, symbolizing the blood of Christ. That’s a bit of a grisly image, I think I’d rather imagine the Easter bunny hopping through the grass or something…..
#2 is constantly reminding folks to “Stay on Topic” so let me get back to eggs.
In truth, my kids like making eggs, but I do not. I find it weird and wasteful.
In the past, we used the color packs and since those are chemically derived, totally artificial and sort of Frankenstienish (in so many ways), I don’t let my kids eat the eggs. My husband flat out refuses to eat them. The fact is that egg shells are extremely permeable, so whatever you dye the eggs with goes into the egg. Also, eggs go bad quickly so its not like you can display them on the table for a week or something. So I just didn’t like the wastefulness that goes into egg decorating.
I found some egg dyes at my local all-natural, super-hip health food store, but they were $11.99 and $13.99, which is just some yuppified marketing craziness right there. So then I thought “lets try some natural ways to dye the eggs”. I Googled all the ways to do that, and found that most of the suggestions and recipes are reiterations of this chart. So I used some of those suggestions and most of them didn’t work at all (spinach is a total dud, don’t waste your time).
So I turned to Martha, who of course has her facts and recipes straight, because she has a legion of assistants to make sure that everything is “a good thing”. My only issue with her method (you can find some of her great ideas, even those with typical dyes, here) is that she recommends boiling the egg in the solution for 1/2 an hour, which is just crazy if you want to eat the egg.
So I decided to go forth on my own.
SO basically here are 2 methods that work, with varying degrees of success.
#1 the Boil in Advance then Put in the Solution method, which results in a perfectly boiled egg with a light, subtle color (see yellow egg above).
#2 the Boil in the Solution then Let it Sit method, which results in a slightly overcooked egg, but much more saturated color (see darker yellow egg in photo above).
Boil the eggs using the standard technique:
- Set a raw egg in enough water to cover, bring the water to a boil, cover and remove from heat. After 10 minutes, remove to a cold water bath.
- Prepare the color solution (best done day before), transfer to a bowl that will let the egg be totally submersed in the liquid.
- Drop the boiled eggs into the solution, soak overnight. Several recipes said soak for anywhere from a few minutes to a couple hours, but these pale eggs were wrapped in fishnet hose then soaked in raspberry overnight and you can see the color is light.
- Prepare the color solution, allow to cool completely (best done the day before)
- Set the raw egg in the solution, making sure there is enough liquid to cover the egg by about 1 inch.
- Bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat. Let the egg cool in the solution and soak overnight. You can soak for less time, but even after 4 hours the color wasn’t saturated. The photos here were made after dinner and taken out of the solution after school the next day.
Click Here for the Color Solution “formulas”
its fun to make patterns on the eggs, which you can do by:
- soak in one color, then in another (time consuming but cool, see pink and blue egg in photo below)
- wrap a rubber band around the egg, as in the photo above
- set the egg in tights or hose, as in the light pink egg above and the blue egg below
- wrap twine around the egg
- affix a sticker or shape (even natural shapes like twigs or leaves work) on the egg- the area will be white or light after soaking
- affix a stencil to the egg
- use a white crayon or wax to draw designs on the egg. If you use a colored crayon, you will see it and it doesn’t work as well.
- blow the raw egg out and soak the shell, then embellish with glitter, acrylic paints, etc.
- BIG TIP: the eggs look dull with the natural dyes. Rub each with a little oil on a napkin or cloth and they become nice and shiny as in the photos below.
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