Monday, March 22, 2010

Naturally Beautiful Eggs For Spring Holidays

There are many good natural substitutes for the egg coloring kits available at the supermarket. These ingredients are readily available and non-toxic. Even the non-toxic kits can contain petroleum products. Any food product with coloring contains color additives such as Red No. 3 and Yellow No. 5. These additives are associated with allergies and according to a 1983 study by the FDA, were found to cause tumors in the case of Red No. 3 and hives from Yellow No. 5. It is unnecessary to expose your families to these toxins when there are so many great natural substitutes available.

To make the dye make sure you have enough liquid to cover the eggs you are trying to color. The ratio should be ¾ cup water to 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. The vinegar helps to extract the coloring agent from the botanical ingredients. If you are using leafy greens then substitute 1 tsp of baking soda for the vinegar. Use up to 4 cups of vegetable solids and 3–4 tablespoons for spices per quart of liquid. Simmer the ingredients for about half an hour adding ingredients and/or vinegar to increase the color of the dye.

Colors available

Red - Red onion peels or Beets

Brown - Black tea

Orange - Peels from yellow onions

Red-orange – Chili powder

Yellow - Turmeric

Lime Green/pale yellow - Green Tea

Green - Frozen spinach, remember to use baking soda not vinegar

Blue - Red cabbage

Purple - Frozen blueberries

Several sources suggested leaving the botanicals in the dye solution in order to achieve a mottled effect on the dying process but you can strain the solution with a coffee filter if you want a smoother appearance. If you are not planning to eat the eggs you may want to try boiling them in the dying solution. This is not recommend for eggs that you may consume simply because it produces a rubbery texture and off taste.

You can experiment with other plants and spices to try and get different colors but remember that eggshells are porous and it is important not to use any toxic materials for the dye solution. Colors vary in intensity – for more color leave the eggs in solution for an extended time. Remember to turn them so that they take up dye evenly. Find a hard surface on which to dry the eggs because they will have imprints if you place them on paper towels to dry.

You can incorporate texture by pressing leaves and grasses onto the egg while dying them. You can also wrap the eggs with string prior to dying to leave lines on the finished product. Add a shine to the finished product by brushing with olive oil.

Hollow eggshells can be preserved by varnishing or a light coat of white glue.

1 comment:

Lori S. said...

Amy, I tried this this weekend with my daughter. Turmeric was a very pale yellow - I think I needed to add more spice to the mix. Tried paprika for orange, which wasn't very successful (it made beige.) The blueberry and beet colors turned out gorgeous! Will try again next year with this experience under my belt :)