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Chef Patti Anastasia
Serving Southern New Hampshire since 2003
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Table Talk » All Natural Beautiful Easter Eggs
Are you or someone in your family allergic to or senstive to food dyes? Or maybe you prefer to avoid the artificial colors usually used to dye Easter eggs. Well, you can still have beautifully dyed Easter eggs. The ingredients are simple and you probably have many of them in your cupboard and refrigerator. This activity will take a little longer than dying eggs with an egg dying kit, but it’s worth the extra time to make naturally dyed eggs.
It’s a good idea to wear gloves when you make any of these dyes. Unless you also want to dye your hands. And don’t use your favorite towels to clean up; use old rags and paper towels.
Yellow Dye: Turmeric, is a spice best known for being an ingredient used to make curry, is the perfect dye for yellow Easter eggs. To make yellow turmeric dye, bring 1 quart of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoons white vinegar, stir in 3 tablespoons turmeric. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve the turmeric. Remove from heat. Let cool until you’re ready to use it.
Red Dye: Beets are used to make red dye. If you’ve ever cooked beets, you know about how they stain. You can use fresh or canned beets. You need 1-2 beets, about 3/4 pound. Roughly chop your beets, and place the the beets, 1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain out the beets and cool the dye liquid until you are ready to use it.
Blue Dye: When you boil red cabbage, the resulting purple liquid will dye your eggs blue. It seems odd, but it works! So for your blue dye, you need 1 pound of shredded red cabbage. Add the cabbage, 1 quart of water, and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain out the cabbage and cool your liquid dye until you are ready to use it.
Here’s the red cabbage dye before the cabbage has been strained out.
Cooking Your Eggs: While you are making your dyes, you should also cook your eggs. For the best colors, be sure to use white eggs. Everyone has their own method for hard-cooked eggs. The first thing that you might notice is that I'm calling them hard-cooked eggs rather than hard-boiled eggs because I don't boil the eggs; boiling the eggs often results in rubbery whites, green tinged yolks, and shells that are impossible to remove.
Here’s my method. Place the eggs in a saucepan, fill the pan with water to cover the eggs by 1 inch of water, add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water (don’t worry, your eggs will not taste salty), bring the water to a boil, immediately remove the pan from the heat, cover the pan, and let the eggs sit in the pan for 16 minutes (for large eggs). But you’re not done there, you want your eggs to be easy to peel. My secrets to easy-to-peel hard-cooked eggs are twofold: salting the water and immediately plunging the cooked eggs into an ice bath (equal parts cold water and ice). Let the eggs sit in the ice bath for 5 minutes.
Dye Your Eggs: Soak your eggs in the dye liquids until they are the desired colors. The longer you leave your eggs in the dye, the darker and richer the colors will be. For very deep colors, you can leave your eggs in the dye overnight. But, if you plan to eat your dyed eggs, and you want to leave your eggs in the dye for a more than an hour, dye the eggs in the refrigerator.
I got the best results from the turmeric dye and the red cabbage dye.
From left to right, the egg was left in the red cabbage dye for 15 minutes, 1 hour, and 3 hours. There is a big difference in the depth of the color of these eggs. The 3 hour egg is my favorite.
From left to right, the egg was left in the beet dye for 15 minutes, 1 hour, and 3 hours. With the beet dye, leaving the eggs in longer didn’t make a significant difference in the depth of the color like it did with the red cabbage dye. My beet dye didn’t seem to want to “stick” to the eggs.
A marbled egg made using the red cabbage dye.
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Kathy said… (on April 2, 2010 at 08:01 AM #)
Those are beautiful!
Patti, I used to do this with my kids when I taught preschool. We also used onion skins and spinach!
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