Dyeing Easter Eggs: Au Natural

by Susan Salzman
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EGGS coloredWhen it comes to holidays, I do not discriminate. Any excuse to bake massive amounts of new treats, purchase unnecessary packaging, ribbons, and lovely little boxes, then gift them to the those that I love gives me great joy. Easter creates endless possibilities. We don’t celebrate Easter, but why should my kids miss out on all the creativity that the holiday has to offer?

I had been reading about naturally dyeing eggs and I was trying to find an excuse to do this intensely laborious project. When I was asked by Levi’s kindergarten teacher for some cooking project ideas related to both Passover and Easter, it took me about 2 seconds to know exactly what I wanted to do with 25 kinders. Upon doing a little more research, I turned my kitchen into an Easter egg lab. Utilizing all my pots, pans, and bowls the mad scientist in me came alive and I could not have been in a more happy place.

Simple garden vegetables; beets, spinach, carrots, carrot tops, parsley, and cabbage make wonderful, rich colors. Storing the dyes in ball jars made transporting the materials to Levi’s class effortless. I waited to add the vinegar until right before the kids placed their eggs in the dyes of their choices. If you have the time, let the eggs rest in the dye for at least 30 minutes to an hour. The longer they sit, the richer the color.

DYES MONTAGEBoth M and I love marinated beets. The beets were the only vegetable I could salvage. Roasting beets keeps their earthiness and their color. I cleaned the beets (leaving some of the stem on for more color), and placed them in a covered, glass Pyrex. Filled the container with water and roasted the beets at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until fork tender. Peeled them right away and cut into chunks. Pour equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar, Celtic sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and a bit of dried oregano, over beets and store in the fridge for up to a week. These are great on their own or toss them into a salad with some roasted pumpkin seeds!

Chopped eggs are a staple in our fridge. There are those times when I don’t always have time for a proper lunch. A few tablespoons of chopped eggs with various veggies always gets me through. For the class project, I hard boiled 15 eggs. In a wooden bowl, I placed 3 tablespoons of chopped, raw onion, 15 egg whites, and 7 of the yolks until finely chopped. Add 3-4 tablespoons of soft (room temperature) organic, unsalted butter and mush all together with the back of a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste. For the Passover element of this project, I put the eggs on top of matzoh.

I was actually surprised at how many kids at the eggs. My kids will eat cooked eggs, but not hard boiled. Seeing the kids coming back for seconds and thirds was wonderful to witness. With the help of a handful of parents, we pulled this little DIY craft project and healthy snack without any glitches. Seeing the kids proudly leaving school that day, with their colored eggs in hand, was joyful. This entire project was joyful! What else we can accomplish with natural dyes! Fabric? Paper? Who knows what we may come up with!

Natural Dyeing Easter Eggs
yield: 3-4 cups of dye per color

Making the dyes:

Red
1 jar Just Cranberry Juice
3 cans beets and their juice
in a large saucepan, bring the cranberry juice and beets to a boil. lower flame and simmer for 30-45 minutes. set a strainer over a glass bowl and strain liquid. let cool completely. transfer to a glass jar.

Pink
7 fresh beets, roasted in water
preheat oven to 375*. cut stems off of beets (I left about 3 inches for added color) and place in a glass casserole dish with a lid. cover beets with water and roast in the oven for about 45-50 minutes or until fork tender. remove skins from beets and set aside. let liquid cool completely. transfer to a glass jar.

Orange
3 heaping Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 bunch fresh carrots, chopped
in a large stock pot, place 3-4 cups of filtered water, chili powder, and chopped carrots. bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer for 30-45 minutes. set a strainer, lined with a piece of cheese cloth over a glass bowl and strain liquid. let cool completely. transfer to a glass jar.

Yellow
3 heaping Tablespoons Tumeric
in a large stock pot, place 3-4 cups of filtered water and tumeric. bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer for 30-45 minutes. set a strainer, lined with a piece of cheese cloth over a glass bowl and strain liquid. let cool completely. transfer to a glass jar.

Green
1 large bunch spinach
2 cans canned blueberries and their juices
1 Tablespoon Tumeric
in a large stock pot, place 3-4 cups of filtered water, spinach, blueberries and their juices, and tumeric. bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer for 30-45 minutes. set a strainer, lined with a piece of cheese cloth over a glass bowl and strain liquid. let cool completely. transfer to a glass jar.

Blue
1 head of red cabbage, chopped
in a large stock pot, place 3-4 cups of filtered water and the cabbage. bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer for 30-45 minutes. set a strainer, over a glass bowl and strain liquid. let cool completely. transfer to a glass jar.

Purple
1/2 cup Hibiscus Tea Leaves
in a large stock pot, place 3-4 cups of filtered water and the tea leaves. bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer for 30-45 minutes. set a strainer, lined with a piece of cheese cloth over a glass bowl and strain liquid. let cool completely. transfer to a glass jar.

Light Brown
4 Tablespoons Dill Seeds
in a large stock pot, place 3-4 cups of filtered water and dill seeds. bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer for 30-45 minutes. set a strainer, lined with a piece of cheese cloth over a glass bowl and strain liquid. let cool completely. transfer to a glass jar.

Brown
6 Organic, Black Tea Bags
in a large stock pot, place 3-4 cups of filtered water and the tea bags. bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer for 30-45 minutes. set a strainer over a glass bowl and strain liquid. let cool completely. transfer to a glass jar.

When ready to dye, add 2-3 tablespoons of white, distilled vinegar to each color. mix and start dying.

 

Susan Salzman writes The Urban Baker blog to explore her dedication to good food in the hope of adding beauty to the lives of her family and friends.  

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