I’ll come clean. What I really wanted to write about is the best Easter Bunny story ever written; The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (by Du Bose Heyward). Written in 1939 it is chock full of straight up morals, rewards of hard work and good behavior as well as Gloria Steinem’esque manifestations about the power of a woman (furry or not) when aid is called for (‘egg aid’ in this instance). I keep asking people if they’ve read it. Even an attendant at a local bookstore standing directly next to it said ‘no, he’d heard it was good and he really should’. So I’ve adopted a personal campaign of introduction this year. Please read! It’s fabulous for any age; a sentimental story of triumph and goodwill (and great vintage illustrations) perfect for the budding season.
Being a food blogger, I had to find the food aspect to feature with relationship to this book. Eggs seemed apropos, after all the book is about the Easter BunnIES (yes according to this there are multiple bunnies and traditionally all male) and delivering eggs. I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of naturally dyed Easter eggs so felt this to be a perfect chance to experiment.
It would be impossible for me to be any more excited about my natural dye endeavor; so rife with chromatic opportunity and exploration. I researched like a mad woman to find the best method of dying eggs. I put a few techniques together and had a very successful experience.
What You’ll Need:
- Eggs (I recommend white) in the amount you’d like to dye
- Containers for the eggs to sit in the dye; one per dye color depending on the amount you’ll dye (I finally settled on quart size Mason jars with lids)
- White vinegar
- Natural food and spice items to create the dye (see below)
- HARD BOILING EGGS
- Place eggs in a large pan and fill with cool water (if eggs have been at room temperature make the water warmer).
- Place on the stove top and bring to a boil.
- Once the water in the pan has begun to boil, turn off heat. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Place pan under cool running water (don’t dump out water the eggs cooked) over the sink allowing the water to become fully cool in the pan gradually. This will cool the eggs slowly preventing cracking, but also makes them easier to peel when the time comes. Place the eggs aside.
DYING EGGS NATURALLY
I wanted to make multiple colors and settled on the following somewhat based on the colors and also what I had on hand:
- Red (made with beets)
- Blue (made with red cabbage….yes, really)
- Green (made with spinach)
- Golden Brown (made with dill seeds)
- Yellow (made with turmeric)
- In a pan add the item which is the source of the dye (e.g. beets, spinach, etc). There is some personal discretion with the amount. Part of what you can consider is the depth of the dye color; for more dye or darker dye, use more of the item. I used about 6 small beets (chopped into four pieces each), a large bag of spinach leaves, about 1 cup of dill seeds, ½ cup of turmeric and a half of a small head of red cabbage chopped into chunks.
- Add water to the pan to reach 1 inch over the top of your dye source. Bring the water to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the mixture until the water is the color you would like for your dye. The eggs will be lighter than the dye so bear this in mind when picking how dark you want it.
You will notice all items create dyed water at very different rates. Beets were very fast; maybe 10 minutes. Spinach took a very long time; a few hours. I wanted my dyes very intense so simmered them for a few hours.
Note about red cabbage: this almost drove me mad so I’m going to break the code on this for you now. Red cabbage DOES make the eggs a blue color. I’ll spare you the chemistry about it (which I did research) but trust me, your egg sitting in a gorgeous purple dye WILL come out blue. This dye took longer to set in but was very blue when I took the eggs out after soaking overnight.
Red Cabbage ‘dye’ liquid
Egg after sitting overnight in red cabbage dye
Note about spinach: it does make the egg green but a very earthy, bottom-of-a-pond green. If you are looking for something that would match a leprechaun’s coat, this is not it.
Egg after sitting overnight in spinach dye
Note about turmeric: when mixed with water it becomes very silty. I just wiped any excess off once the egg completed dying and drying.
Egg after sitting overnight in turmeric dye
3.After having reached the desired color, carefully strain the dye mixture into a glass measuring cup and discard the dye source material (e.g. beets, spinach, etc). Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per 1 cup of liquid.
4. Allow the mixture to cool before adding eggs to avoid cracking.
I began using bowls but quickly switched to quart volume Mason jars with wide mouths (wide mouth if possible, makes it easier to get the eggs in and out). The other thing is you may, like me, choose to soak these overnight for optimum color transfer. If so, and if you plan to eat them, you’ll need to store them in the refrigerator. Having a jar with a secure lid is the way to go (no one wants to stage a scene looking like a remake of the movie Carrie happened in your fridge were the beet dye to spill).