Decorating and coloring eggs for Easter is an ancient tradition that has passed from one generation to the next. Both fun and creative, the process proves to be a great family activity enjoyed by young and old.
- 18 large or jumbo eggs
- white vinegar
- water (enough to cover eggs at least 1 inch over in pan)
- bowl with ice cubes and water (large enough to completely cover eggs)
- vegetable dyes
- Lay eggs on bottom of the pot.
- Try not to stack your eggs (it's better to do it in batches than overfill your pot). Use a pan that's deep rather than wide.
- Fill with water so it's an inch over the eggs
- Put on high heat and bring to a rapid boil.
- Let boil for 12 minutes, rolling the eggs around gently with tongs or a fork.
- Remove from heat.
- Remove the eggs immediately from the pot (We use a slotted spoon) and plunge them into cold water until you can pick them out of the water without burning your hands (a bit under a minute). This is also important when making eggs for egg salad or other purposes.
- Using commercial food dyes, prepare the dyes with one color in a shallow bowl.
- Add one egg to the bowl at a time and roll the egg around until fully covered.
- Remove with tongs and set on a drying rack.
- Repeat to make the eggs darker if desired.
- Remember the same dye can produce several shades.
- Repeat with the different colors until the eggs are dyed and colored to your satisfaction.
- Before putting the eggs in dye, use a sharp pointed wax crayon (clear or in colors and create neatly drawn designs with contrasting or darker colors to the dye. These can be flowers, crosses, patterns or anything you please.
- Once the egg is dyed, the wax remains the same as it went on, showing up against the egg.
- To make white, use a clear wax crayon.
- Note: In the Ukraine, wax is melted and quills or other pointed stylus devices are used to apply very fine lines of clear wax. Later, dyes are applied to specific sections of the egg within the patterns with brushes, pens or other means.
- First, you'll need a good apron and newspapers everywhere because this is messy.
- Dye the eggs in their basic colors. Then, take a few old toothbrushes and dip one into a contrasting color.
- Putting the brush in your hand with your thumb on the bristles, roll your thumb back to splatter the egg with the dye. Let dry and repeat after turning the egg around.
- We use a slow turning device (from our microwave) to turn the eggs for us. Use different dyes to make a selection of speckled eggs. Keep the splatter brush further away from the eggs for fine speckles, and closer for bigger spots.
- After the eggs are thoroughly dry, use a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil to "polish" the eggs. It will cause the eggs to have a shiny coat over the dye.
Note: It is not recommended to eat the eggs after they've been dyed. Left out of refrigeration, the eggs will spoil. After Easter Sunday, discard all the eggs. Use natural dyes as follows, instead of commercial dyes.Put eggs in as large a pan as possible. The process works better if the eggs aren't stacked on top of each other. This may mean you can only do 3 or 4 at a time (but that will give you the chance to try more than one kind of natural dye).Fill the pan with water so that it's about 1/2 inch over the eggs. Add 2 teaspoons vinegar (regular white vinegar) - the only exception is don't add the vinegar when you're using onion skins. For some reason they react and make the eggs a rather brownish color.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon alum to the water - makes the colors a bit brighter
- Add the natural dye material it takes a fair amount of the dye... for example, we used 1 cup of cherries, 2 Tbsp tumeric, 2 cups of packed onion skins...
- Part of the fun of the "experiment" is trying to figure out how much of the material to add. Let the children be involved!
- Record observations in a journal for sharing with family or at school. Red cabbage leaves are especially exciting because they turn the eggs bluish not red.
- Bring water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
- With a strainer, remove the eggs onto a bowl covered with paper towel.
- If the eggs aren't as dark as you'd like, remove the paper towel from the bowl and add the cooled strained liquid you originally used to dye the eggs. Let sit overnight.
- This may make the egg shells weak (the vinegar weakens the shells).
- Carefully remove the eggs from the liquid and let sit in the air.
- The shells will harden again.
- When the eggs are dried, rub vegetable oil on with a paper towel for a glossy look.
- Red/Pink: Fresh beets or beet juice from bottled or canned beets), canned cherries or frozen, crushed cranberries (not cranberry sauce or jelly)
- Orange: yellow onion skins
- Light Yellow: lemon peels, orange peels or ground cumin
- Golden yellow: Ground Tumeric (a kind of spice)
- Light Green: Spinach (frozen chopped)
- Blue: Red cabbage leaves or blueberries (crushed) - Pre-boil red cabbage leaves for 30 minutes.
- Purple: Grape juice (Welch's)
We haven't tried this (yet), but the following suggestions have been made to us by viewers.
- Beige: Strong coffee
- Variable colors: Red Onion (Spanish Onion) skins
- Red or Purple: Wild Raspberries
- Blue: Blueberries
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