Thursday, April 21, 2011

DIY Natural Colors for Easter Eggs

_ "This is so much fun, Mom... all those colors coming from those vegetables!? ", asked my 6 years old boy.
_ "Can I color all the eggs in the house?", asked the 4 years old.

Kids had a blast preparing our "color lab", and were in awe about the amount of colors we can make from vegetables and spices.

Just because I grew up as a believer that adding artificial colors on food was not a sign of elegance, I am always looking for alternatives on food coloring. Even for boiled eggs.
For cakes I am currently using the India Tree trio of natural dyes. They have a amazing result, specially when mixed with marshmallow fondant. But I must admit that we still eat those delicious chocolate mini-eggs, with all the letters and numbers that make the codes for artificial colors.

But as real eggs are not a big deal and we can improvise a lot. If the egg preserves its shell without any crack as the colors don't penetrate the egg itself, and the variety of colors coming from flavors is wider.
I was mainly inspired to make those with the help of this awesome post, by The Boulder Locavore. Then As we started experimenting, lots of teas and spices came out of the cupboard and were tried. Here are our favorites:

Naturally Colored Boiled Eggs

Because I plan on doing a big egg salad with those eggs I really chose my favorite brand, from Trader Joes, eggs that are made by  free-range chickens.

Water enough to cover them
2 tablespoons Paprika
2 cups spinach
1 tablespoon sage
1/4 red cabbage
2 medium  beets

Use your favorite recipe for boiling the eggs. I love Julia Child's one. It always works and I never have that grayish rind on the yolks. Let the eggs cool. Here's a guideline of our favorite dyes:

Orange _ Boil paprika in 2 cups of water, when cold enough to the touch add 2 tablespoons white vinegar. To achieve a deep color you can soak the egg overnight. We found that 20 minutes is a good timing for a smooth orange.

Blue _ Ours were not that deep blue. Cooked red cabbage for 40 minutes in two cups of water. It cooled down and I added 2 spoons of vinegar, which changed the color of water from blue to purple. Yet, the egg still came in a very soft shade of blue, soaked overnight, in the fridge.

Pink _ Beetroot works on the egg faster than cabbage. It may take from 1 hour to overnight to achieve the desired shade. Beets were simmered for about 30 minutes. The same was followed: one tablespoon of vinegar for each cup of the colored water.

Yellow - A very light shade of yellow can be achieved by dipping the egg in infused in 1 tablespoon dry sage. I didn't use the vinegar for this one and the color stayed. The other shade came from infused dill. I will test with saffron soon.

Purple/Lilac - The egg was left in grape juice for 2 hours. I will test it again soon. One of the boys could not wait and immersed the egg on the paprika color.

We are going to play more this weekend! Hopefully we will come up with more colors and the Easter bunnies are not going to be disappointed! Happy Easter.


Boulder Locavore said...

I'm so flattered you would like to link to the blog post about my naturally dyed eggs. I greatly appreciate you letting me know about the link as well! I love what you've done too. Will have to try it!

Anna said...

And I am so happy that I found your blog and the magical colored eggs! Love love love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Loving this - but do you think it works with brown eggs? I live in Zambia and haven't seen a white egg since I got here and therefore put dying easter eggs out of the picture...

Darienne said...

I haven't tried brown eggs myself, but I did see this nice pictorial: I read somewhere that you get a nice blue with brown eggs and cabbage left to sit for a good long time. My guess is you're unlikely to get vibrant color, for the most part, but there should be some. I have mostly brown eggs on hand, so I'll be giving it a go!

Anna said...

Oh, brown eggs, sure! I might try coffee and soy sauce for them, maybe even wine? In the meantime I tried saffron threads with white eggs for yellow and it comes out perfectly and faster!

Myrna said...

The eggs look great indeed, and there is no reason one should not dye them during the rest of the year as well, to create (healthy) beauty at the table. The photos are inspiring!


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