For Easter this year I tried my hand at coloring eggs with natural food elements found around the kitchen—instead of using packaged egg dyes. My great experiment yielded delicate colors—far softer and more realistic than the deeper jewel tones from off-the-shelf dyes.
Still, with only basic items on hand I was able to create a nice palate of colors. I learned that chopped red cabbage tends to go into shades of blue; my red beets unfortunately turned out to have predominately white interiors, but their stems were enough to provide a pale pink. I had no saffron, but turmeric yielded lovely shades of yellow (I understand yellow onion skins will also do the trick). Even though I used over 10 cups of chopped spinach, it only resulted in a sad, insipid pea green.
Working with a small one quart pan, I started with about a tablespoon of white vinegar, 3 healthy handfuls of the chopped vegetable, covered it with about 3 cups of water and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes—until the water turned a deep vibrant color.
Including the eggs in part of this cooking process is a viable option; it will result in more mottled coloration as some of the food/material may adhere to the shell while it simmers.
Since my eggs were already cooked, I opted to strain the finished dye solutions and dip the eggs into individual glasses of colored liquid. In this manner, I could dip the eggs into different colors for varying results or combine the colors to create new shades.
I love playing with my food. I love the challenge, the discovery, and the delight that comes when I approach the taste, the appearance, even the way I use my food, from a completely different perspective. Yes, even the most rudimentary foods can be dynamic.
My little Easter egg project was not only entertaining, it was gratifying to revisit an honored tradition—to be reminded that there is joy in keeping it simple.
How to Hard Cook an Egg
Here’s a fool-proof way to achieve the hard-cooked stage: where the white is firm and the yolk is set, without any ugly green rim. Gentle cooking is best. Boiling and excessively bouncing an egg over very high heat for an extended period results in a tough white with a dry yolk.
Place desired number of room temperature eggs in a saucepan and cover them with at least an inch of room temperature water. Quickly bring to a boil; immediately reduce heat to low and simmer the eggs gently for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs stand covered for 10 minutes.
Drain the eggs and place them in an ice water bath until cool. To peel, gently crack the eggs all over on a hard surface, then peel them under cool running water.