Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter goes Organic

When I used to go with my husband to visit his grandmother for Easter she always had the traditional Greek bright red Easter eggs.  I never thought to ask how she made them and unfortunately she's no longer here to tell us.  Not long ago, however, I read that Greeks get that color by dying the eggs with onionskins.  My husband disputed that Yia-Yia ever did this.  "She took the bus to the Greek store and she got some kind of dye there," he said.  But I decided to try it, figuring I had some freedom to branch out as my son is now too old for dyeing eggs.  My first test run two weeks ago, with two eggs and some yellow onionskins, produced eggs that were a deep...well, kind of mahogany.  This past Saturday I tried again, with both purple and yellow onionskins.  On the stove, the colors of the liquids were different, with the yellow onionskins producing pale orange and the purple producing a stronger red.  On the eggs themselves the color was basically the same, reddish-brown.  I tried a couple of variations seen on Youtube, including boiling the egg wrapped in pantyhose, with a cilantro leaf against it to make a pattern on the shell.  I also tried wax designs on the egg from a candle...didn't work, most of the wax came off in the water.

If you want to do it yourself, you'll need skins from onions (I had 5 or 6 reds, probably around 10 yellows, obviously the more the stronger the dye), vinegar and eggs.  Boil the onionskins in enough water to cover them plus two tablespoons of vinegar for about 20 minutes.  Strain the onionskins out and let the dye cool.  Then boil the eggs in the dye.  I boiled them as you normally would hard-boiled eggs (15 minutes).  You can do them longer but eventually the eggs will become inedible.  If you don't like the color after 15 minutes just let them cool in the water and the dyeing process will continue.  You can even soak them overnight. 
If you want designs, take a cilantro or other edible leaf and place it against the eggshell, then wrap in pantyhose and tie it with a twisty. 

As for the bright red eggs Yia-Yia used to produce?  Research suggests she may have used Rit fabric dye.  Sometimes traditions are better left unrevived.

1 comment:

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

Funny about the dye. I hadn't heard of using onion skin. It would be fun ti experiment with color.

Happy Easter!

Play off the Page