By Dana Zia, The Golightly Gourmet
“If you’re dyeing eggs in celebration, engage nature in the process this year.” – Frontier natural spices
Almost every culture in the world celebrates this time of year with the egg. The egg, which is abundantly laid by the light loving chickens, has its purpose to bring new life into the world and to nourish that life until it reaches the point where it can survive on its own. (No wonder eggs are one of the most nutrient-rich foods available to us!)
It very is easy to see how the egg became an enduring symbol of Easter. It provides the nourishment for re-birth and signals the return of the light. The myths and stories about how the egg became an inseparable part of Easter are as abundant as Easter egg hunts on Easter morning.
One of my favorites is of the Goddess Eostre or Ostara, who is the bringer of spring and fertility in many ancient religions. She had a humble furry friend, a bunny, who loved the Goddess with all its little heart. As the legend goes, he wanted to please her so much that he laid sacred eggs in her honor and decorated them in the colors of spring flowers. When the rabbit presented Eostre with his gifts, she was so delighted she desired all to share in her joy. She asked the little rabbit to go throughout the world and distribute these sacred gifts to signal the return of the light.
Another wonderful story is that the Mary Magdalene brought a basket of boiled eggs to the tomb of Jesus, to share with the women there for nourishment in their time of darkness. When Mary saw the risen Christ, all the eggs in her basket turned brilliant, blood red. The hard shell of the egg, represents the tomb, and its cracking and peeling away signals re-birth of the soul into a new beginning. To this day, many Orthodox and Eastern Catholics give decorated red eggs to each other on Easter morning.
Decorating Easter eggs is a tradition that spans the globe and is an ancient art. My personal memories of decorating Easter eggs is filled with the smell of vinegar and multi colored fingers. Artificial dyes and plastic were always involved. The trend towards a more natural and environmentally friendly Easter is gaining momentum. Chemical dyes are being linked to long term health problems and have devastating effects on children’s behavior and their ability to learn. The FDA still has not proven artificial dyes are safe but they are still in being used wide open.
Why take a chance on your precious little chicks and expose them to high doses of artificial dyes at Easter when you can do it naturally? All risk and no benefit; who needs that in their Easter basket of re-birth? It is easy to do with stuff you most likely have around the house and yard (and do a little spring cleaning to boot!) You can naturally decorate your eggs and impart an egg-cellent chemistry egg-speriment on the beauty and possibilities of our using natural surroundings for art.
Of course, do not hesitate in using these beauties for Easter eggs hunts and deviled eggs. My beet pickled pink eggs over at my blog at danazia.wordpress.com make the most sensational deviled eggs ever! I also have detailed pictures of this project on my blog. There are more options for natural dyes just Google it. Enjoy your Easter season, in whatever way you celebrate. Hoppy Easter!
Spring botanical naturally dyed eggs
Using the natural dyes gives you a good chance to use those freezer burnt berries. Feel free to use regular egg dyes to make these beautiful eggs and add just a drop of black food coloring to bring about earthier tones.
12 white eggs, un-boiled
An old panty hose, cut into 5 inch tubes
Leaves and flowers from the yard
One egg white in a small bowl, stirred a bit
String or twisty ties
For brown; 1/4 cup of fresh coffee grounds, 4 bags of black tea
Or brown onion skins from 4 onions
For blue, 2 cups of blueberries
For purple; 2 cups blackberries
For pink, a jar of pickled beets or 2 fresh beets cut up or dried hibiscus flowers
For yellow, 1/4 cup of turmeric powder
For green; a box of frozen spinach or a BUNCH of grass from the yard. (You’re after the chlorophyll. I had to end up using a few drops of green food coloring to get some color. I hear chlorophyll tablets work better.)
For Orange; dried calendula or marigold flowers
To start prepare your dyes. Put four pots on the stove with 4 cups of water in each and add whatever natural dye products to the water that you desire. Bring them to a boil and let simmer for about 5 minutes or so, turn off the heat. At this point, strain the dyes if you do not want any mottling or dots on your eggs. Add a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water to each pot and then let set while you prepare your eggs for their colorful baths.
Armed with your paintbrush, paint the front of a leaf or flower with the egg white and stick it to the egg. Carefully wrap in the panty hose tube and draw tight, seal with the twisty tie or string making sure the botanical is held securely in place. When they are all done, carefully place in the dye baths. Bring the dye baths to a simmer over medium heat and then reduce heat to just barely maintain a simmer, so not to crack the eggs, for ten minutes.
Remove from the heat and fish the eggs out and let them drain in an egg carton. When they are cooled, carefully unwrap one of the eggs and see if you are satisfied with the color. If not put the eggs back in the cooled dye baths and let them set in the fridge overnight. The colors will become more intense the longer they set in the baths. Feel free to add more to the dye baths or mix and match materials. Have fun egg-sperimenting!