Women have been delighting their children and grandchildren with decorated eggs for centuries. To create these time-honored tokens of friendship and love, they used natural dyes made from fresh fruits or vegetables plus whatever decorations they had on hand. Here's how to color Easter eggs the old-fashioned way. It's easy and fun.
Hard Cooking Eggs for Dyeing
1..To prepare the eggs for dying, dip each one into a mild detergent solution.
2..Scrub gently with a soft brush to remove the oil coating (the dye will adhere better), Rinse the eggs well.
3..Place the eggs in a stainless steel, enameled, or glass saucepan or Dutch oven (don't use aluminum or the dye won't hold on the eggs). Pour cold water over the eggs until the water is 1-inch over the top of the eggs. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook just below simmering for 15 minutes.
4..Drain, then cover the warm eggs with cold water. Let them stand in the water until cool enough to handle. Refrigerate until you are ready to dye the eggs.
Fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and seeds provide a multitude of delightful natural colors for dyeing Easter eggs. Working with natural materials is especially enjoyable because it's not a precise science. The richness of color you obtain depends upon the concrentration of the dyeing liquid, the length of time you leave the egg in the dye and the surface of the egg itself.
To get started, here is a list of colors that can be obtained from natural materials. (Remember that if you plan to eat your dyed eggs, you must use edible and chemical and pesticide free dyeing materials).
Pinks and reds. For a variety of light pinkish reds, use about 2-cups cranberries, sliced beets or red raspberries.
Orange. For a wide range of orange shades, use the skins from 4-large yellow onions
Yellow. For delicate yellows, use 2-teaspoons ground cumin or for a more lively yellow try 2-teaspoons ground turmeric.
Blue. For blues that range from pale to deep teal, use about 4-cups red cabbage leaves. For shades of medium to deep blue try 2-cups canned blueberry juice.
Dyeing Easter Eggs
Step 1...To brew dyeing liquid from fresh fruits or vegetables, first wash and rinse them well. Then, place the fruit or vegetables in a stainless steel, enameled or glass saucepan. (Don't use aluminum or the dye won't hold on the eggs). Add 2-cups cold water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature.
Step 2...To stain the dyeing liquid, set a colander in a medium sized bowl and pour the cooked mixture through the colander. Discard the dyeing material and store the stained liquid in a sealed and labeled jar in the refrigerator until you're ready to color Easter eggs. (You can brew and strain the dyeing liquid up to 2 weeks before using).
Step 3...Pour the brewed dyeing liquid or fruit juice into a small stainless steel, enameled, or glass saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in 1-tablespoon white vinegar. Carefully lower 2 to 4 eggs into the hot liquid. Let stand until the eggs reach the desired color. (Natural dyes do not take as quickly as commercial dyes. It may take only a few minutes or up to several hours for the eggs to dye to the color you want).
Step 4...Dry eggs. Once all the colored eggs are dry, lightly brush the eggs with cooking oil. Chill. (Will keep for about 10 days)
Omit step 1 and 2 if you are using canned fruit juice as dyeing liquid.