Saturday, March 30, 2013

How to Dye Easter Eggs with Natural Plant Dyes

If one is a dedicated foodie, coloring Easter or spring eggs, should be done au natural, no?

This Examiner set out to discover – or re-discover – how to color eggs with natural – plant-based dye.

Yes, the fizzie paaz is a holiday favorite or tradition.  But those pellets are scary. 

In search of a better Easter egg, there was the pursuit of the Martha Stewart-inspired craft of blowing out the eggs and using the wax crayon to inscribe the name of family and dinner guests, with the beribboned monogrammed eggs hung from forced cherry blossom or pussy willow stems.

This year, natural was the challenge.
After some research, including Junior League friends (Hilary shared her red onion egg dye experience) - the plan was to more or less follow the recipe or guidelines as provided by a Katie Fox, SimpleHomemade blog from 2010.  Fox was unavailable for comment for this post.

However the recipe seemed quite doable and fun. Most of the ingredients were on hand, and the others would have been in the garden or pantry. Nevertheless all were readily accessed from the market.

Recipe from SimpleHomemade:
In addition to eggs, you will need white vinegar, water, and veggies, fruits, and spices for colors.  Don’t leave out the vinegar – it is a necessary fixative, ensuring that the color will adhere to the eggs.
• grated beets
• chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
• Red Zinger tea
• chopped frozen cherries
• chopped frozen blueberries
• chopped red cabbage
• red onion skins
• yellow/brown onion skins
• chamomile tea
• ground turmeric
• saffron
• chopped spinach
Mix these together to create other colors, as well; for example, reds and yellows can combine to produce orange shades.  It’s a fun and easy way to teach children about colors.

Use about 2-3 cups of water in a saucepan for each color.  Add one tablespoon of vinegar and the plant(s) of choice.  Bring to a boil for fifteen minutes before adding eggs.
The chopping of the frozen blueberries and the spinach was easy. Likewise, the grating of the beets.
Rather than use four different pots on the cooktop (after all, there is a big holiday dinner in prep for Easter!), the microwave was employed.
The natural ingredients were added to coffee cups, with the vinegar and heated for five minutes to a boil.

The best color was the chamomile and yellow onion skins.  The yellow was a bright and happy hue.
The red turned out to be more pink.  It worked better with the addition of the rest of the beet. Don’t shave it – just cut it up and add to the vinegar water.
The thinking was to turbo-charge the blue color and add a blueberry tea to the frozen chopped blueberries for the test recipe. After all, the chamomile worked swell. But the blue turned out to be more grayish blue initially. The addition of more vinegar accelerated the blue color.
The only real failure was the green. Which is more than disappointing as the spinach even dyed the cutting board when chopped! Perhaps more spinach and a bigger container to accommodate the intensified plant dye ingredient.
The result was great Yellows, good Red & Pinks and Blues. That the Green was flawed was made all the more disappointing given that Green is the Pantone color of the year…  

Happy spring.  Enjoy the egg salad, sans colored shells.

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