“When are we going to color Easter eggs, Mama?”
If you’re like me, I can’t bear to buy those factory raised, spherical objects called ‘eggs’, at the grocery store, no matter how cheap they are at Easter time.
I was trained well by my resourceful mother-in-law to never throw food away. If you can’t eat it, feed it to the chickens or turn it into compost.
Yet, the generic store-bought eggs I don’t even find fit for my compost, let alone my family’s consumption.
Paying the high price for organic field-run eggs when I already have them coming out my ears doesn’t appeal to me either.
So, unless I get some Leg Horns (‘Leg’rns’ as the older country folk around here call them), Delawares, or another white-egg laying chicken,
brown eggs will just have to do.
I decided it’s time to break the white egg tradition for coloring eggs for practical reasons.
Here’s what we did:
Expecting a carton-full of dull, muddy Easter decorations, we were quite pleased and surprised with the results!
I used baker’s quality food coloring paste* that we already had in the kitchen for candy-making (it’s very intense – my hands are proof!)
and mixed anywhere from a 1/4-1/2 tsp. of each color with 1 c warm water and 1 tsp. white vinegar.
(*Baker’s quality food coloring can be purchased at specialty candy-making and baking supply stores)
NOTE: these are not natural dyes. These dyes have probably been in my cupboard for 10+ years from my husband’s long-time candy making obsession.
The intensity of color in the professional baking dyes is a hard one to beat.
Because we dyed the eggs RAW (or you can blow them), the natural, protective coating (bloom) is still intact,
and the shell membranes have not been damaged from boiling. We do not get the dye leakage into the egg like you do with hard-boiled eggs.
Just be sure the girls are well supplied with oyster shells the week before!
If you are looking for all-natural dyes, India Tree carries basic primary colors:
The ‘earth egg’ was a complete accident.
For the ‘earth’ effect, I swirled 1 Tbl. olive oil or more into the dye mixture.
I was trying to get the swirl look but you are supposed to pour the vinegar/oil mixture in a shallow dish and roll the egg in the mixture.
I missed that step.
I just dunked it in and let it soak. Hence, the ‘earth egg’ was born.
My son went gung-ho on this project and experimented with rubber bands, stickers, tape, and various small leaves for different effects.
We dyed the whole egg a solid base color first. Then we added the stickers, rubber bands, etc., before soaking it in a darker color.
1. Choose base colors that will over-power the brown, such as red or orange. Even with my intense professional baking dyes, yellow just makes brownish-yellow.
2. Any dark red-based color works, such as blue or purple.
3. I found that a glue-stick worked best for attaching objects to the egg, such as leaves. Run one side of the leaf over the tip of the glue-stick, apply the leaf to the egg, and let the glue dry completely before soaking it in the dye.
I’ve had a very diligent egg gatherer lately.
Those poor hens are checked every ½ hour to see if they’ve popped out
another potential art project!