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Monday, March 17, 2008

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!



Tea Rose said...

This blog has recently become my new favorite place to come and visit every morning over a warm cup of tea. I especially enjoyed this post though. I really don't enjoy the industry standard neon pink and blue eggs dyes that we parents get guilted into doing with our kiddos every Easter. I showed this idea to my daughter and she is absolutely in love with the idea of getting to pick foliage from our garden to make patterns with and have something unique, natural and beautiful to show for it. Great idea. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Welcome tearose, we are glad to have you join us. Let us know how your Easter eggs go!

brooklyn said...

i just read about almost the same thing in family fun mag--but they did the same thing in the traditional dyes so there are pretty leaf shapes in white on the colored egg. i thought they were so pretty!

the natural colors are really cool.

m. said...

we also use beets & turmeric to make dyes. i have never heard of the pattern idea though. i love it!

Brandi said...

I just tried this tonight and it turned out AWESOME! Each design is so different. It was really fun and easy. The yellow onion skins did better than the red, though.

Becky said...

My family has been dyeing eggs this way for as long as anyone can remember, but this is the first time I've heard of anyone else doing it! We usually take old silk clothes and cut little bits to apply to the egg, and so a snip of paisley, a dot of red, etc., shows up among the swirls of the oranges and browns of the onion skin. We make them on Good Friday ("egg night") every year.

Liz J said...

What a wonderful tradition....they look beautiful, and....natural. Great idea ~ thank you and Happy Easter!