April brings the warmer weather of spring, blooming flowers, and a time for family outdoor activities. This year, Easter is celebrated on April 16. Many families will gather to dye and hunt eggs during this time. Did you know– egg decorating during the spring season is a tradition that dates back to the earliest civilizations? Easter time is now when families traditionally enjoy embellishing eggs with festive colors.
There are commercial egg dyes available, but have you ever tried to color your eggs using food items? I did this with some of my employees and they were amazed at the colors and techniques. It is amazing to see how we can use food items to naturally color eggs. It is a way you might try “going back to nature”. Remember to use only edible ingredients that are food safe. You probably have many vibrant colors in your refrigerator and spice rack that would make beautiful colors for dyeing eggs. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Wash your hands thoroughly before handling eggs at every preparation step, including cooking, cooling, dyeing and storing.
2. Only use eggs that have been refrigerated. Discard eggs that are cracked or dirty.
3. Eggs purchased one week before they are used will be easier to peel. Be sure to keep them refrigerated until time to cook them.
4. When cooking, place a single layer of eggs in a saucepan. Add water to at least one inch above the eggs. Cover the pan, bring the water to a boil, and carefully remove the pan from the heat. Let the eggs stand 15 minutes for large eggs and 12 for medium. Immediately run cold water over the eggs. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, place them in an uncovered container in the refrigerator where they can air dry.
5. When decorating be sure to use food grade dyes. It is safe to use commercial egg dyes, liquid food coloring and fruit-drink powders. Later in this article, you will learn techniques to also dye using food products. When handling eggs, be careful not to crack them. Otherwise bacteria could enter the egg through the cracks in the shell.
6. Keep hard-cooked Easter eggs stored in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Keep them fully chilled by storing them on a shelf inside the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door.
7. The best recommendation for food safety is to use plastic eggs for hiding and eggs in the refrigerator for eating. If you decide to hide real eggs, I recommend that you have two sets of eggs one for hiding and one for eating. Discard the ones you hide as they may have been been exposed to high temperatures, soil, pets, and other potential sources of bacteria. Children are at high risk for food safety.
To dye eggs naturally:
Choose a dye ingredient (listed below). Place in a large enough pan for water to be one inch about the dye ingredient. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the desired color has been achieved.
Remove the pan from the heat; strain mixture with a fine strainer or cheesecloth into a liquid measuring cup. Add 2-3 teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of strained dye liquid. Pour the mixture into a container that is deep enough to completely cover the eggs, such as a tall glass or jar. Place the hard-cooked eggs into the dye water until the desired color is achieved. Stir to allow the color to reach all the parts of the shells evenly. Note: the eggs will not get as dark as the color of the water. Remove eggs from the dye and allow to dry. Naturally dyed eggs will have a dull finish. Rub with vegetable oil for a more shiny appearance. Refrigerate immediately.
Fresh beets, cranberries or radishes or frozen raspberries Pinkish red
Yellow onion skins Orange
Orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed or ground cumin Delicate Yellow
Ground turmeric Yellow
Spinach leaves Pale green
Yellow Delicious apple peels Green-gold
Canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves Blue
Strong brewed coffee Beige to brown
Dill seeds Brown-gold
Chili powder Brown-orange
Purple or red grape juice, cranberry, pomegranate or beet juice Grey/purple/red hues
Use your own judgment about quantities. This is art, not science, so explore and see what wonderful colors you discover using some commonly found items. This is a great way to spend family time together and create some beautiful Easter Eggs and memories. Have fun experimenting. So what can you do with your hard-boiled decorated Easter Eggs? Make egg salad, deviled eggs, add to a casserole, top a salad. There are so many other possibilities!
For more information on nutritional topics, contact your local County Extension at 1.800.ASK.UGA1. Free nutrition classes through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program are offered in Spanish in Chatham, Appling, Tattnall, Toombs, Wayne, Bacon, Jeff Davis, and Effingham counties. For more information contact Carmen Martinez at 912.652.7994 (email@example.com) or Fani Orrelana at 912.367.8130 (firstname.lastname@example.org).