The last time I made Easter eggs was something like 30 years ago, so yeah, it’s been a while.
When I was a kid, mom always busted out the PAAS, and we would spend a pleasant afternoon dunking hard boiled eggs in bowls of neon color. Sometimes we would get fancy and add a pattern or two in crayon, but usually we just dyed them a single color and called it good.
That stopped sometime around when I turned 10 (so that makes me nearly, ahem, 40!)
Things have clearly changed since then. I see now that PAAS has rolled out a whole new product line. Check out the bedazzled version, and the monster truck one. Next up, egg tats. Oh wait, that already exists.
PAAS even has an app, in case you want to go digital with your creations.
The hipsters are also apparently in on the action.
I found all these options a bit overwhelming for my first egg dying session after a very long hiatus and briefly considered abandoning the whole thing.
But I knew little dude would absolutely love the whole Easter Egg thing, so I resolved to give it a go.
In the end I decided to go the hippie route and dye my eggs au naturel, with vibrantly hued veggies and spices.
The first matter of importance is whether to go with hard-boiled eggs, or blown out. I think we all know the answer to this one – hard-boiled. Who wants to bother with sticking a pin gingerly through each end and blowing out a bunch of raw egg? Way too much effort. Hard-boiled eggs are a lot easier to make, and then you don’t have to worry about lunch for a while.
The second matter of importance is whether to boil your eggs in the dye, or let them soak in the cold dye. Boiling the eggs in the dye apparently yields more brilliant colors, but these days I have a super short attention span and would probably end up with a bunch of rubbery eggs if I tried to manage 4 pots of boiling water at once. For the sake of simplicity, I went with the cold soak.
Once that was decided, the rest was pretty straight forward.
Since there are just 3 of us, I figured we would do a dozen eggs in 4 different colors, so 3 eggs of each color.
There’s a whole cornucopia of tantalizing dye recipes out there, using all sorts of interesting ingredients.
It was tough to narrow down, but due to the aforementioned attention span issues, I thought it prudent to limit my colors to just four – blue, yellow, pink and green.
As it turns out, the Bon Appetit version was a perfect fit for my specs. Not only did it include my chosen colors, but the recipes yield just enough dye to fully submerge 3 eggs (at least in theory, more on that later). Also, since the green dye is actually made of 2 other colors (yellow and blue, natch) you only have to make 3 dyes, then mix 2 to get the fourth.
So here is what I did:
-Boiled a dozen eggs. I went with white. Stored them in the fridge overnight until I could make the dyes the following day.
-Made the dyes. See recipes below. For the beets, I went rogue and used about a cup of the beet stalks instead. I just couldn’t bear to part with the beets. Big mistake. More on that later. Also, I accidentally simmered the red cabbage and beet stalk dyes at too high a heat. For my beet dye, I started with 3 cups and ended up with 1 1/2 cups, which just baaarely covered my 3 eggs. Same with my red cabbage dye, I started out with 4 cups and ended up with 2 ½ cups, which was not nearly enough.
-Strained the 3 dyes, then measured 1 1/2 cups of each into 3 separate containers (I used recycled spaghetti sauce jars). By design, I ended up with extra red cabbage and turmeric dye. To get the green dye, I had planned to mix 2 cups of the red cabbage and 1/4 cup of the turmeric in a separate container, per the Bon Appetit instructions. But I only had 3/4 cup of red cabbage left over. Oops. Luckily I had some extra turmeric, so I improvised and mixed in 3/4 cup of turmeric to get my 1 1/2 cup of dye. The resulting mixture did not look green at all.
-Gently placed 3 hard-boiled eggs into each container.
-Stuck them in the fridge and totally forgot about them until the following day. When I finally retrieved them from the fridge, they were definitely done. I thought the dye would stain the shells, but instead they were covered with a sort of funky, cold patina. Some were splotchy, others had white spots where the shell rested against the glass. The shells were a bit soft, from sitting in the vinegar I think. I made the mistake of rinsing one off, and the color came right off! So I decided to take Martha’s advice and gently shake the dye off and let them dry on a wire rack. The colors turned out fantastic! Except for the beet stalks, that is. The dye itself was neon pink but the eggs came out a muted brown. I tried to save them by soaking them a little longer with the peels leftover from roasting the beets, but they only got the faintest bit of blush, and I was ready to be done at this point. But the red cabbage turned the eggs a vivid turquoise, the turmeric produced a beautiful gold and the two combined made a jewel-like emerald green!
All in all, not too shabby, despite all the unexpected twists and turns. But they did turn out to be waaaay more work than I anticipated, even though I tried to keep it simple by limiting the palette and the quantity. I think next year I’ll just take the easy way out and get this.
Hippie Easter Eggs
Adapted from Bon Appetit
2 medium beets, coarsely grated
3 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
3 cups water
Combine beets, vinegar and water. Simmer for 30 minutes, then strain into a large bowl. Let eggs steep in solution for 30 minutes for a delicate light pink, or up to 4 hours for a deeper red.
2 cups chopped red cabbage
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
4 cups water
Combine cabbage, vinegar and water. Simmer for 30 minutes; strain into a large bowl. Steep eggs in dye for at least 30 minutes. Different cabbages will yield different shades.
2 teaspoons turmeric
3 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
3 cups water
Bring water to a boil; add vinegar and turmeric. Let steep for 10 minutes. Add eggs and let steep in solution for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
¼ cup yellow dye leftover from above
2 cups blue dye leftover from above
Combine the two dyes. Let eggs steep in solution for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. For a deeper green, combine ¾ cup yellow dye and ¾ cup blue dye.