April 14, 2012

Colouring Easter eggs the natural way

Colourful Easter eggs

It’s the Orthodox Easter this weekend and I’m in a festive mood.  Traditionally, Greek-Cypriots start their Easter baking and dying of eggs a few days before Easter.  The eggs are dyed in various colours, red being the most commonly used colour.  This year I wanted to try one or two different colours other than the usual red eggs.  I prefer dying my eggs using natural ingredients – brown onion skins always work very well but I read that you can also use spices and vegetables to get other shades too.  This week I tested ground turmeric for yellow eggs, red cabbage for blue eggs (yes blue!) and beetroot for red eggs.  

This is how my natural colour egg-xperiment went:-

For red eggs: 
I first tried making red eggs using only beetroot.  This didn’t work at all, so a made a second batch using the tried-and-tested brown onion skins as I was running out of time.  Boil the onion skins in plenty of water (enough to completely cover the eggs later on) for about 30 minutes with a dash of white vinegar (that’s about 1 teaspoon).  You don’t have to add the vinegar but they say it helps the colour adhere to the egg shells.  Next add your eggs to the pot and nestle them snugly in between and underneath the onion skins and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat.  Let the eggs soak in the onion skin water for a few hours or overnight for a more intense colour. 

For yellow eggs: 
I made a batch of yellow turmeric water using ordinary store bought ground turmeric.  Cook as above with a dash of vinegar to make the coloured water and then boil the eggs in the same way.  The colour took to the eggs very quickly after soaking and they turned a mustard colour – I’ll definitely use this one again!

For blue eggs: 
Cook a lot of red cabbage leaves in water and a dash of vinegar for 30 minutes.  Cook the eggs as per above.  The eggs initially did not take to the colour at all, and they were still white after I finished cooking them.  After a few hours of leaving them in the purple coloured liquid the eggs eventually became speckled with light blue dots.  Leave them overnight for a darker blue shade.  This method took the longest to achieve the colour but it does work as you can see from my photos.

Some notes to consider: 
  • All the eggs used were white organic eggs.  If you use brown eggs, the shades may vary.
  • If you’re living in a warm climate as I am, it’s safer to transfer the soaking eggs to the refrigerator as soon as the liquid has cooled down.  The eggs will continue to absorb the colour regardless of whether they are in the refrigerator or outside.

Festive Easter platter - Eater eggs and Flaounes

Once the eggs have been coloured to your liking, remove them from the coloured liquid and pat dry with a paper towel, then store them in the original egg containers until required.  On Easter eve or Easter day, I like to place the eggs in a large bowl and leave them displayed on a table alongside a platter of Flaounes  – these are Greek-Cypriot Easter cheese pastries.  It all looks very colourful and festive and the smell of home-made cheese pastries is heavenly.  For those who don’t know the tradition, you’re supposed to crack all these beautifully coloured eggs with someone else and the egg that doesn’t get cracked is the winner!  Some people get very competitive, but it’s all for a bit of fun and children usually love this game.  

Wishing everyone who’s celebrating a Happy Easter!