Saturday, March 30, 2013

Natural Easter Egg Dye

We've been cutting back on processed meats and nitrates, trying to keep the meat we do eat organic, and incorporating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables in our diets every day. We try to limit potentially carcinogenic food dyes found in so many processed foods including mac and cheese but don't let me kid you. Our eating habits are far from perfect. Ice cream for breakfast, anyone?

In a continuing effort to do more good than harm, I thought we'd jump on the bandwagon by way of natural Easter egg dyes this year.
Nice, right? 

I have to confess I bought a back-up package of PAAS because I wasn't sure how the troops were going to react to the idea soaking for hours only to end up with muddier, less vibrant hues. I shouldn't have worried. They had so much fun mixing up their potions and checking up on their eggs over the course of the day, they almost forgot all about the fizzy Paas tablets. Almost.

As for hard boiling eggs, there are all sorts of tips and tricks out there for avoiding the dreaded green ring around the yolk, making the eggs easier to peel, etc. The way I see it, if anyone knows how to properly hard boil an egg, it's Martha. So here's a recap of her drill.

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
courtesy of Martha Stewart

1 dozen eggs
Large stock pot

Allow the eggs to come to (or close to) room temperature. Place them in a heavy bottomed, large stock pot. Cover the eggs with an inch or 2 of cold water. Heat to a boil slowly, over medium heat. Once the water boils, remove the pot from heat, cover, and let sit for 12 minutes.

After 12 minutes, rinse the eggs under cold water in a colander for several minutes until cool.

Now your ready to start mixing your dyes!
Natural Egg Dye (Blue)

1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Combine the water, vinegar, and blueberries in a medium bowl. Use a masher, muddler, or wooden spoon to mash the berries. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, then strain out the berries through a fine sieve, reserving the liquid dye.

How long you soak your eggs will depend on the vibrancy of your berries and the color you want to achieve. We soaked our blue eggs for nearly 5 hours to get the color you see in the photos. 
 Natural Egg Dye (Yellow)

1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp ground tumeric

Combine the water, vinegar, and tumeric. Stir well.
 Natural Egg Dye (Orange)

1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp ground paprika

Combine the water, vinegar, and paprika. Stir well. 
With these dyes like many others, the longer you soak, the darker your eggs will get. We soaked our yellow egg in the tumeric dye for about 2 hours to achieve the lovely golden hue you see here. The blueberry and paprika dyes took longer - about 4-5 hours each. You can always stick them in the fridge to soak if they're taking a while and check up on them periodically until you like what you see.

Overall, the natural food dyes were a roaring success. The kids didn't mind the slightly duller colors (compared to the electrically bright PAAS) and really enjoyed mixing and smelling the dyes...especially the blueberry. Personally, I think these are much prettier than our neon eggs of years past. Next year we're prepared to go all out, nixing the tablets, and expanding our color palette with beets, onions, and green tea powder. Happy Easter!

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