Posted on April 9th, 2012
You might wonder why I am doing an egg painting post on the evening of Easter Monday rather than at least the day before. To be perfectly honest, it is because my DSL dry loop is either on the fritz (at one or more points of failure) or my modem is unwell or both. I spent 2 hours waiting to speak to the Internet provider today… The long and the short of it is that I have to test my modem at a friend’s house to rule it out, before the ISP will look at the line. So I am posting from elsewhere today. Woe is me.
In any event I figure since orthodox Christians following the Julian Calendar don’t celebrate Easter until next week, this post can be considered to be timely. If you have already celebrated, file it away for something to do with or without the kids next year if you like. It’s all good.
Here is how I spent Sunday morning: I dyed eggs using natural dyes for the first time. I set out to dye boiled eggs – ones I meant to eat rather than ones made primarily for decoration. Ukrainians call these krashanky. There is a fascinating history behind egg painting in Ukraine (No joke). Maybe next year I’ll post about it.
Colouring Easter Eggs Using Natural Dyes
Use the proportions described below to start, and then adjust to either increase or dilute the saturation of the dye. The vinegar provides acidity allowing the dye to better ‘stick’ to the egg shell.
3 Beets – shredded and then the juice squeezed into a cup. cold (if boiled you can achieve a deeper red) – shredded and juiced into a container…1.5 cups
4 tbsp Coffee – boiled water in kettle
3 tbsp Turmeric – boiled water in kettle
1.5 – 2 cups Blueberry juice – boiled (2 min)
Skin from one large red onion – boiled (10 min)
Skin from 3 medium yellow onions – boiled (10 min)
2 cups of flower petals that stain your hands when torn. – boiled (10 min)
12 + boiled eggs (8.5 minute boiled eggs)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp vinegar for each 1-2 cups of liquid
Boil eggs for 8.5 minutes. Remove from heat. In a pot, or using a kettle bring 3 cups of water to a boil. While the water is boiling, set out 7 bowls large enough to hold about 2 cups of liquid each.
In one bowl place 3 tbsp of turmeric, and in a second bowl place 4 tbsp instant coffee. Once the water is boiled pour half of it in the dish with the turmeric and the other half in the dish holding the instant coffee. Add 1 tbsp of vinegar to each dish. Stir each well. Place one egg in each dish for 15 minutes. Then check on the colour of the egg. Leave it in the solution until it is the colour you want.
Onion skins and Flower Petals
While the eggs are soaking, using 3 pots, place two cups of water in each. Bring each pot of water to a boil. Once boiling place the skins from 3 medium sized yellow onions in one pot. In another place the skins from one large red onion. In the final pot of boiling water, place 2 cups of flower blossoms. I happen to have a quince bush in bloom so I used its pink flowers. Boil each for 10 minutes. The skins and flower petals should loose their colour as it boils. Pour each pot of ingredient and water into 3 of the remaining bowls. Add 1 tbsp of white vinegar and a boiled egg to each. Check colour frequently.
Shred beets using a cheese grater. Squeeze the beets either through a clean cheese cloth or simply using your hands if you don’t have cheese cloth. Once you have about 1.5-2 cups of beet juice, (about 3 beets), put it in a pot. Pour about 2 cups of blueberry juice into a pot. Bring both pots to a boil for 2 minutes.
Pour the beet juice into one of the remaining empty bowls and the blueberry juice into the other. Add about 1 tbsp of vinegar to each. Place an egg in each bowl of boiled juice. Check every few minutes until the desired colour is achieved. Once your eggs have dried, you can rub olive oil or another veg oil to bring a shine to the egg. If you prefer the matte finish don’t use oil.
Here are the colours I was able to achieve:
- 2 shades of green – moss and what I call frog green (from the red onion skins!!)
- 3 different reds (beets)
- 2 shades of yellows (tumeric)
- dark purple (blueberry juice)
- lavendar (blueberry juice and beets)
- pink (quince and beets)
- terracotta orange and light orange (yellow onion skins)
- toffee brown (coffee)
Here are some things I learned along the way that I think it is useful to share:
- Wear clothes you don’t mind getting stained. The beets were the messiest of the ingredients followed by the turmeric.
- To reduce the chances of eggs cracking when you are boiling them, first put them in a bowl of warm tap water. Then boil about 2 cups of water and add it to the warm tap water.
- Using a ladle to gently lower several eggs at a time into the boiling water also helps with this.
- To ensure the eggs are boiled the same amount once the water has boiled, set the timer for 9 minutes. Check the time when you place the last egg in. Remove from the stove after 8.5 minutes.
- If you need to come back to dying your eggs, don’t throw out the solutions you have made. Store them covered in the fridge and then reboil in the next few days to continue.
- Some people put the dyeing ingredient in the water while the egg is boiling.
- If you are dying in one solution and then want to dye the same egg in another, be aware that the vinegar in the second solution may strip off some of the dye from the first application. This gives a mottled look – which can be good. If you want to avoid this, use a vinegar free boiled solution for all applications after the first.