Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Egg Blues...and Reds...and Yellows

Without looking at a calendar, it's hard to believe this weekend is Easter. Few signs of spring are showing, and the prairie is still looking drab in its dun winter wear.

In an attempt to find something colourful, I researched natural dyes for colouring Easter Eggs. Some are unsafe for use on food products, but I've found a few that will produce food-safe, primary colours (blue, red and yellow.) With a little double-dipping, a variety of colours can be achieved. And, for the artists among you, get out your kids' otherwise-useless white (wax) crayons! They can be used to draw on the eggs, and are especially effective when using the double- and triple-dip methods of egg-colouring.

First you'll need to prepare the eggs (see previous blog post, 'Egg-cellent Food', for the "perfect" hard-boiled egg.)

Then, prepare each dye:

  1. For a light blue colour, you'll need sliced red cabbage. In a pot, cover it with water and bring to a boil. Let cook for about 30 minutes. Allow this dye to cool completely as cabbage-dyes won't "take" when hot. Once cool, strain the vegetable matter. The liquid will appear purplish, but it will colour the eggs a nice, pastel blue.
  2. For a reddish colour, you'll need a few cups of onion skins. (French onion soup anyone?) These, too, will need to be cooked, covered with water, and boiled for about 30 minutes. This dye can be used while still warm and, depending on the length of time the eggs are immersed in it, will produce colours in the range of orange, through red and brown.
  3. For yellow, you'll need a few small apple tree branches. Scrape the bark into a pot and cover with water; one quart of water to a ½ cup of bark. Boil for 30 minutes and then add about ½ teaspoon of alum. A solution of turmeric can also be used for yellow dye; however this can also flavour the eggs slightly.

As an important note, you'll want to use glass, ceramic, enamel, or Teflon-coated pots for making the dyes. Some metal pans (tin, aluminum and iron) can alter the colours.

To add a glossy finish to the eggs, rub a little vegetable oil on their dried surface.

Have a happy and colourful Easter everyone!