Egg decorating is a fun past time for us, I remember doing so annually as a child, and so far my two year old and I are having fun with it as well. It’s history is cultural, celebratory and even religious. No matter your affiliations, it’s a fun way to spend time together in the spring. Especially if you like hard boiled eggs and painting. For the reason to keep food and fun natural, I choose to dye our eggs with food-based dyes, *very* cheaply. This year, egg decorating was free for us.
Last year, my one year old and I had a fun adventure painting eggs with spices and things from our kitchen. Our eggs started brown and ended with, well underwhelming results, if you care to check them out. No fun was lost on us though, we giggled the whole way through. Isn’t having fun together more the point than achieving the perfect dyed egg? We felt it was. To my then one year old and I, our eggs were the cream of the crop. This year egg dying got even cheaper, simpler and maybe more fun too.
New recipes have appeared since last year, and over past years, for naturally dyed eggs. The ones I’ve found are either not very toddler friendly, leaving the adult to the task, or they’re, in short, expensive and wasteful. Chopping up cups of veggies and pouring cups of fruit juice in pots isn’t in my budget or easy on my conscience. Once the eggs are dyed, I want to eat them too, so cheap chemical colors -and even low quality eggs, are not options. I want my toddler to be engaged in the fun, not just watch me drop eggs in a hot pan, in an onion skin, from afar. My daughter likes to paint! Somewhere in the middle of that lies a balance: cheap, naturally dyed eggs that we can make together.
This year, I scored cage-free, vegetarian fed white eggs for $1.99/dozen on sale at the grocer. I saved (didn’t devour) four of them for our egg art and hard-boiled snacks later. The other eight were eaten earlier this week and this morning for breakfast, mmm.
The dyed eggs didn’t cost anything – since we are eating them later and used frozen berries that were almost tossed into compost a month ago. For us, these dyed eggs were FREE.
Check your kitchen for your free dyes, even a month or two ahead of time. Do you have any freezer burnt berries like I had? Are you about to toss out some kale puree that’s been in the fridge for more than three days? If so, freeze these things until you’re ready to dye eggs. Label them, “for egg dye”. Do you have some wild colored spices that are getting old in the cupboard? Spices are only supposed to last up to a year, it might be time to use some to dye some eggs?
If this fits your style, all we did was this:
Set your eggs (we used four white ones) in a pan with enough cool water to cover an inch over the egg tops. Add a generous splash of cheap, distilled vinegar. Some recipes are not meant to be particular. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. This step takes a good ten minutes. When you have a rolling boil, turn off heat and cover pan with lid. Leave eggs to sit in covered pan for 7 minutes. (I used to wait 15, too long…) Then rinse eggs under cold water for a good minute. I spoon eggs gently into a colander for this. Refrigerate until ready to paint… hard boiled eggs can be refrigerated for about five days.
In a saucepan, simmer your “natural food dye” in about 1/4 c. water with another generous splash of cheap, distilled vinegar. We used about 20 freezer burnt raspberries, mashed them up and kept the seeds in. I took out my nut milk bag and considered using as a sieve, and then put it away. It seemed a messy, unecessary step for “homemade dye”. Have a small bowl or cup of distilled vinegar to roll each egg in before painting. (We also used vinegar to rinse our brushes in between colors.) Grab a paintbrush or two and have some fun. We used dinner plates underneath to catch paint drips and spills. Our second color was about a Tablespoon of too-old-to-eat basil pesto that I found in the fridge. I simmered it in about 1/2 c. water with a vinegar splash. We used it on one of our four eggs… it wasn’t my best paint choice, but it was there, and did turn the egg a lovely spring green marble.
Allow eggs to dry on the plate, then store in the refrigerator for up to five days. We peeled and ate a couple of ours with our backyard picnic for Earth Day today. Good protein and no eggs wasted!