It is that time of year again. Flowers start blooming, the grass turns greener, and eggs get boiled and dyed to celebrate the wonderful holiday that is Easter. My family is Greek, so Easter has always been a fun and huge celebration, with tons of good food and beautiful decorations. Last year I dyed my Easter eggs in the traditional Greek manner by turning them blood red, which you can see in this post from my old 52 weeks project. This year I wanted my eggs to be a bit more cheerful and bright with a nice variety of saturated colors, so I decided to try and do plant-based dyes again to see how they’d turn out. I used spinach leaves for the green, purple cabbage for the blue, beets for the antique/pink, and carrots and paprika for the orange. I also tried making yellow dye with golden delicious apple peels, but it didn’t work. The other natural dyes worked really well however; the key was letting them soak in the dye overnight to become really saturated with color. I didn’t do this with the antique/pink dye however, because I kind of liked the antique-y coloration it had after an hour of soaking so I took them out to dry. If I would have left them in overnight, they would’ve turned a nice, rich pink. I also experimented with speckling the egg’s surface by adding extra salt to the orange and green dyes, which gave them a fun scatter of spots, but I think I like the solidly colored eggs better. More things to keep in mind for next Easter, I think.
Herb Stenciled Easter Eggs
- 12 white eggs
- 12 Carrots cut into 1-inch thick slices
- About 5 Beets chopped into roughly 1-inch cubes
- 1 Head of Purple Cabbage chopped
- 1 lb Fresh Spinach Leaves chopped
- 5 Tablespoons Paprika
- 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- At least 1 and 1/2 cups of White Vinegar
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Soft-Leafed Herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, or mint
- 2 Pairs of Sheer Nylon Stockings cut into 6-inch tubes (each pair of stockings makes about 6 tubes)
- When dying eggs it is important to use pots that are not too wide because the eggs will need to be fully submerged in the dye. The wider the pot, the more water it takes to fully submerge the eggs, and the more diluted and weak the dye becomes. A deep pot that is no wider than 8 inches in diameter is ideal. Each of the four dye mixtures needs their own pot. Also, the more salt you add to your dye, the "spottier" the egg's surface will appear.
- To make the orange dye, pour five cups of water into a pot along with the chopped carrots, paprika, and 1 teaspoon, (or more for speckles), of salt. Mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and allow it to cook for 1 hour. To make the blue dye, pour five cups of water into a pot along with the chopped cabbage and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and allow it to cook for 1 hour. To make the pink/antique dye, pour five cups of water into a pot along with the chopped beets and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and allow it to cook for 1 hour. To make the green dye, pour five cups of water into a pot along with the chopped spinach and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and allow it to cook for 1 hour.
- Strain each dye into it's own bowl so that only liquid is left in the bowl. Discard the vegetables. Pour the each dye into a liquid measuring cup, however many cupfuls are possible at a time, and keep track of how many cups of dye there are. Then pour the dyes back into their respective pots. For every cup of dye in each pot, add 3 teaspoons of white vinegar and stir to blend. Allow the dyes to cool for 30 minutes.
- Using a paper towel or kitchen cloth, gently rub vinegar into the shells of each of the 12 eggs. Place an herb trimming on the front of the egg and arrange it in the position you want to imprint onto the egg. Set the egg down with the herb on top of it. Place your dominant hand through one of the stocking tubes so that your fingers are sticking out of the end of the tube. Then, hold the egg in that same hand with the herb facing upwards, and place your thumb or forefinger on top of the herb to keep if from moving. Using your opposite hand, gently pull the nylon over your dominant hand until the egg is in the middle of the tube. Carefully remove your dominant hand from the tube, allowing the herb to be held in place by the nylon. Grab the ends of the tube with each hand and flip the egg over so that the stencil is facing away from you. Loosely tie the two ends of the tube together behind the egg. Repeat this process with as many of the eggs as you'd like to stencil.
- Place 3 of the eggs in each pot of dye. Bring the pots a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pots from heat and allow them to rest, still covered, for 15 minutes. Place each of them, except the beet dye, in the refrigerator and allow them to sit overnight. If you are making the beet dye, you can allow the eggs to sit in the dye in the refrigerator for about an hour and they will have the antique look featured in these photographs. If you want them to be a very bright and deep pink, let them rest overnight.
- If you're making the eggs in the morning, check the coloring of the eggs after 6 to 8 hours, and allow them to soak until they have reached the desired saturation. The longer they soak in the dye, the richer and darker their color will become. Once they reach the desired saturation, remove the eggs from the dye and then untie and discard the nylon stockings and the herbs. Place the eggs on a wire rack to dry, with the stenciled side facing up. Allow them to dry for at least 1 hour.
- After the eggs dry, they will become slightly dull in sheen and saturation. When you are ready to serve them, dip a paper towel in the vegetable oil and gently rub the outside of the eggs with the oil to create a nice sheen and to bring out the vibrance of the colors. Serve immediately, and keep any uneaten eggs refrigerated.