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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pioneer Easter Eggs

Try this all-natural way to color Easter eggs, using
onion skins. I learned it from my mother, who
learned it from her mother, who undoubtedly learned it
from her mother, too.

The best part of this method, and what I remember most
from growing up, is that it was almost like two Easter
egg hunts in one. Before we even started coloring the
eggs, mom sent us a-hunting outside for blossoms,
fresh grass blades, buds and the like to create
patterns on the eggs. Even if we didn’t find
something new and green, we always enjoyed the search.
Ah, spring.

Here’s how to color your own eggs:

• Gather the outer onion skins, as many as you can!
The more you have, the greater color saturation.
You’ll need to wrap them around each egg several times

Remove skins in as big a piece as possible. Save them
in the fridge for the weeks leading up to Easter. Or,
if you’re like me and the holiday sneaked up on you
this year, dig in the grocery bins to buy lots of
loose skins when you purchase onions. Yellow ones
produce a golden brown color, with red and purple
onion skins imparting a bit more of their respective
hues. It’s best to keep one variety per boiling pot
so colors don’t get muddy.

• If you’ve collected vegetative material, place the
pieces right next to your raw egg in desired pattern,
then wrap onion skins around egg. Try moistening
leaves, etc., to get them to stick to the egg first.

If you didn’t make it outside, raid your crisper for
celery leaves, carrot tops, herbs or more – use your
imagination. (Don’t use anything that may be toxic --
check the Internet if in doubt.) Leaves and such make
a silhouette effect. Pansies (which are edible and
therefore safe) sometimes transfer some of their color
to the egg -- cool! Onion skins alone, however, still
make beautiful eggs with wonderfully layered color.

• After wrapping raw eggs with skins and more skins,
secure tightly with rubber bands (easiest) or string.
Or tuck egg inside a piece of clean nylon stocking.
You really will get more color depth and interest the
more skins you use, so break loose!

• Hard-boil using cold-water method: Place wrapped
eggs in pot, covering with an inch or more of cold
water. Bring quickly to a boil, then set aside
covered pot for 22-24 minutes (add about 5 minutes for
high altitude). Cool immediately under running cold
water. (My mom says the dyed hot water can stain a
porcelain sink, so carefully pour it down the drain to
avoid having to scrub later.)

• Remove onion skins from eggs and admire your
handiwork. Don’t forget that it’s nature handiwork,

• If desired, polish dry eggs with a little vegetable
oil. Refrigerate eggs until needed. I've yet to have
one that tasted like an onion!



Stephani said...

Excited to try this! Thank you!

Martha said...

Very cool, would love to try this method sometime. Sometimes our local paper has features in around Easter about this kind of thing using different veggies. Thanks for sharing!

teekaroo said...

I tried this last year with a few eggs. I liked the way they turned out. I didn't think to put leaves and such in the mix. That would be fun too.

Amy Olson said...

We used to do this as kiddos with my mom. We would let them get very dark and then etch pictures on them with a needle. Similar to this little guy http://www.englishcafe.com/photos/scratched-eggs-69165

fullfreezer said...

I've done this in the past and it's really fun. We've also used beets/beet leaves for a really lovely pink color. Or red cabbage, if I remember right, actually makes blue. FUN!

I've also been known, when my children were younger, to just throw some onion skins in (no wrapping) when I'm making hard boiled eggs for other reasons (not just Easter) so the children could tell which one were boiled and which weren't.


I wonder if you boiled them in the water used to cook beets would result in pink eggs?

Michelle said...

I'm SO gonna try this! They're absolutely beautiful! :)

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

i am so excited to have read this! i love that this is a tradition and that you continue to carry your ancestors 'ways' with you into your daily life...thank you so much jennifer!

Maia said...

What a great idea for coloring eggs--I love it!

Becky said...

My family has done eggs like this for generations, every Easter. It really warmed my heart to see those eggs when I opened this page today!! Thank you.