Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

I posted this on my old blog a few years ago. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get the veggies to make them this year, given the current state of the nation’s grocery stores. But if you can, you might want to try this. It’s more labor-intensive than using those little chemical dye packs with the chicks and bunnies on the packages, but the results are much nicer, and the process a whole lot more satisfying.

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I just finished making a batch of Easter Eggs, using a technique I hadn’t tried before. Onion skins and purple cabbage impart vibrant orange and blue shades, and flowers and leaves I picked in my own yard make interesting stencils! This is what they look like finished:



And here is how I made them.

First, assemble your materials. You’ll need eggs (unboiled), a head of purple cabbage, and the skins of yellow onions. I used the skins of 6 or 7 large onions, but I also grabbed some of the unattached skins from the onion bin at the grocery store, and shoved them into the bag with my onions. You’ll need a large pot or saucepan for each color you plan to make. I had only one large pot, so I used that for the onion skins and broke up the head of cabbage into two smaller ones, a Calphalon saucepan and a Corning Ware stovetop-safe casserole dish. You’ll also need small flowers, leaves, ferns, or herbs for the designs, and some knee-high hose (for a dozen eggs, you’ll need six of them). Distilled white vinegar is optional. With a pair of scissors, cut the knee-high hose in half.



Pick up an egg; arrange a leaf, frond, or flower on it; and pull one of the knee-high halves over it. This will feel awkward at first. I recommend you keep your design simple. Don’t try to decorate both sides of the egg, at least at first; it’s easiest with one botanical per egg. Place the hose over the design first and then pull it around the rest of the egg; tie it tightly on the opposite side, tightly enough so that the flower can’t move. This will get easier after you do the first few.





Place the hose-wrapped eggs deep within the onion skins or cabbage. Make sure the onion skins or cabbage pieces cover them. And don’t try to fit in too many. I made a baker’s dozen eggs, with 6 in my large pot and 3 or 4 in each of the small ones.



Fill the pots with water, higher than the level of the eggs. You might add a splash of white vinegar, which is supposed to help set the dye, but this is optional. Some of the instructions I found said to use it and some didn’t. I used it, but I haven’t tried it without, so I don’t know how much of a difference it makes.



Put them on the stove on high heat. Heat until boiling. Then lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, depending on how hard-cooked you like your eggs.



Turn off the heat and let the eggs cool in the pots. When the pots feel cool, put them in the fridge overnight.



The next day, pull them out, fish out the hose-wrapped eggs, and leave them on paper towels to dry a bit.



I started to unwrap one immediately, and the dye started to come off. You’ll get better results if you wait a while.



When they’re mostly dry, take your scissors and carefully make a cut in the hose, near the knot, and pull it off an egg. Once the egg is unwrapped, peel off the flower, leaves, or herbs. Voila! You’ve made an egg. Repeat for all of your eggs.



For some reason, the cabbage-dyed eggs from the Calphalon saucepan came out a darker shade of blue than the ones I cooked in Corning Ware. I’m not sure why; maybe one had a higher ratio of cabbage to water. But I was pleased to see it. It gave me three different colors of eggs instead of two. (And did I mention that they’re UVa colors????)



I read that you rubbing a bit of vegetable oil on these will give them a nice shine, but I haven’t tried that yet. And don’t worry if a bit of the color penetrates some of the eggs (as it sometimes does with store-bought dyes). It does not make your eggs taste like onions or cabbage!

Aren’t these awesome?

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