I like decorating eggs for Easter and I do it every year. I follow my granny’s recipe and naturally dye eggs by cooking them in onion skin. The skin gives the eggs a very nice red-brownish colour. You can find the instruction in my other post “Easter egg decorating with onion skin and spring leaf prints”.
On top of my traditional spring leaf prints, I decided to experiment with some natural dyes this year. I picked just 4 ingredients for my first attempt as it requires making many boiled eggs and I already made quite a few for my previous post. I like to eat eggs now and then but I am not a fan of having them for breakfast, lunch and dinner a few days in a row. The ingredients I selected for my experiment were turmeric, normal tea, red cabbage and onion skin (as it always gives me an excellent result).
I know cooking eggs in onion skin for 20 minutes is enough time to dye the eggs, so first thing I wanted to try was if the other dyes would give me the same result.
I used half a red cabbage, cut into pieces, 8 tea bags, 2 tablespoons of turmeric and 3 hand fulls of onion skin. I cooked each ingredient in a separate pot for 10 – 15 minutes to let them release their pigments, then I turn the temperature down and I added an egg to each pot, and let them cook for almost 30 minutes. The egg that was cooked in the onion skin turned out the best, unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed with the other eggs. They were over boiled and neither turmeric, cabbage nor the tea gave enough colour. The eggs were very pale and unattractive. I actually binned them.
But I didn’t want to give up as I read some tips where people left the eggs in the dyes overnight which allowed the colours to pigment the shells better.
I made new hard-boiled eggs. I strained the liquid from my dye solutions and poured it into 4 separate jars. I waited for the eggs and the liquid to cool down and then I put an egg into each jar. I didn’t feel it would be good to leave the jars with eggs on the countertop overnight, as our kitchen is quite warm and I was planning to make an egg spread from these eggs for our breakfast in a couple of days, so I left them in the fridge to be safe. The eggs stayed in the fridge for 13 hours before I was able to check on them.
I was pleasantly surprised with the result this time. The eggshells absorbed pigment nicely and the colours were brighter, deeper and more vibrant. Of course, they will never be as bright as food colourings but I was very impressed with them.
The last step was to gently coat eggs with either oil or lard as it prevents colours to go dull once the eggs are dry. I did it very gently in the palm of my hand as the colours are fresh and fragile at this point and it’s easy to scratch them or rub them off by an accident.
I think I can call it a success. I am so happy with the result. It gave me the motivation to try more experiments with some other natural dyes like henna, indigo, coffee, beetroot, red wine etc. but preferably next year, as I really don’t want to eat more cooked eggs anytime soon.