One of my favorite childhood memories was on Easter Sunday when I would wake up to the feeling of magic in the air. It was a day for play. After church, we would pile into the back of our station wagon and take the drive to my grandparents’ farmhouse where boiled eggs and beautiful dyes would be waiting for us. Decorating my grandma’s eggs made them so precious to me, those mini works of art magically became priceless Faberge eggs to be gazed at with admiration. After a late afternoon supper, we would play hide-and-seek among the fig and pecan trees in the back yard, dodging the bobbing lightning bugs at sunset. We would scan the horizon for pops of color of the hidden Easter eggs among the green grass like we were mini bank robbers on a heist.
With Easter weekend upon us, we were so excited to be invited to our friend Becca’s picnic & egg dyeing party. Becca wanted to try out some edible dyes and I am always a “yes” to a kitchen experiment and nostalgia. As an adult, it’s been maybe a decade since I’ve dyed eggs, since there are toxins in standard food dyes and I try to avoid them. We had so much fun experimenting with Becca’s all-natural egg dyes and we learned a lot in the process. So in honor of Easter weekend, we wanted to share a little whimsy and knowledge with you…
Lessons Learned in Becca’s Kitchen
To start, here’s what we learned about what works and what doesn’t using vegetables to stain eggs. Becca wanted to experiment with 4 different types of dyes, things you would have around your kitchen or would compost: Turmeric, Purple Cabbage, Beets & Yellow Onion Skin.
Supplies for All-Natural Dye
- 2 Tbsp. of Turmeric
- 1/2 head of Purple Cabbage
- Skins of 5 Large Yellow Onions
- 2 dozen White Eggs
- White Vinegar
Here’s what we learned:
*A white-shelled egg is a better palette to soak up the color than brown eggs.
*The less water you use to soak the eggs, the more concentrated the dye will become. Using just enough water to cover the eggs (about an inch above the eggs–a thumbnail) works best. If there’s too much water, it dilutes the color.
*As a time saver, when trying to boil a lot of water at one time, make sure to use hot water from the sink versus cold to bring to a boil.
The onion skins were a surprising success! Shuck the skin off of 5 large onions. In a pot, boil the yellow onion skins with 1 Tbsp of white vinegar and 6 eggs for 12-15 minutes. The eggs came out a beautiful ruddy red color.
Turmeric was a winner as well. In a separate pot, add 2 Tbsp of turmeric with 1 Tbsp of white vinegar to bowling water with 6 eggs. Bring the water back up to a boil for 12-15 minutes. Drain and let cool. The eggs turned a bright yellow gold.
Purple Cabbage will eventually make a white eggshell a beautiful pale blue color. Separate the cabbage leaves from the whole. Place 1/2 a head of purple cabbage leaves in a pot with 1 Tbsp of vinegar and just enough water to cover the leaves. Bring to a boil, add 6 eggs and let the pot boil 15 minutes. Shut off the heat and let it sit.
We discovered the purple cabbage takes much longer than the turmeric or the onion skins to dye the eggshell. We allowed the eggs to sit in the purple water for 2-3 hours while we picnicked before it really started to take on the color.
We learned a lot from the beet dye experiment. We had used a pre-cooked package of beets from Trader Joe’s. We added the beets and beet juice to the 1 Tbsp of vinegar and boiling water. This did not work as well as far as dyeing, even after we boiled the eggs. They eventually just turned out to be a pale tan color. The main tip we learned for the future is to use raw beets.
Cut the top off of raw beets and peel off the skin with a peeler. Chop the peeled beets into chunks. Boil them in water and 1 Tbsp of white vinegar with 6 eggs 12-15 minutes…this should produce a lovely pink coloring.
TIP: Make sure to use glass or a stainless steel bowl when working with beets. Also rinse any utensils, cutting board or surfaces immediately after cutting the beets to avoid the potent red from staining.
As an alternative, Thrive Market, known for selling natural and non-toxic products, sells all natural food coloring made from vegetables such as spiralina, beets, turmeric, etc. You can also try to find these products at your local health food store. Becca bought these dyes as a back up alternative. It’s always great to make sure all your bases are covered when experimenting for the first time!
Now comes the fun part. Once the eggs are dyed and cooled to room temperature, invite over all your loved ones for a potluck picnic and craft party. Our afternoon of kitchen experiments worked up our appetite, so we set up a picnic in the backyard and let the decorating begin. Cheese, fig jam and gluten-free treats where a great accompaniment to our French tunes & Rosé for our afternoon art day. Experimentation continued as I smeared herbed goat cheese on everything from boiled eggs to crunchy purple cabbage leaves (a great alternative to a cracker).
Becca provided different ideas for decorating the eggs. The highlight of the day was edible gold. This can be used as paint to stencil or to brush onto the eggs and is completely safe to eat. They sell it on Amazon: HERE. Flick the paint with a paintbrush to create a mini Jackson Pollack-inspired masterpiece or paint the gold over a mint leaf used as a stencil. Brush over twine to create a geometric pattern on the shell. The great thing about the left over paint is that you can use it in the future to brush gold onto other desserts etc.
If you are not going to eat the eggs, use colorful sharpies and have fun drawing designs onto your egg palette. Becca tried a beautiful decorating technique using nail polish. Swirl/drip nail polish onto the surface of a cup of water. Dip the egg into the mixture to create a webbing design on the surface.
TIP: Make sure to save the egg carton, to hold the eggs as they dry. Use a disposable paper cup so that you don’t stain your glass.
As well as the multi-colored sharpie pens which give a sharp clean line to any design, Becca’s craft basket also had thin decorative tape to play around with. Feel free to mix it up and experiment with whatever crafty fun catches your eye!
Have fun this weekend and HAPPY EASTER! ~ With love from Sirens & Scoundrels
To learn more about Becca Murray, our hostess, check out her site: www.beccabrain.com
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Words by Sarah Prikryl // Photography by Sarah Prikryl
Contributing Photos by: Becca Murray
© 2016 Sirens & Scoundrels