I like to share this recipe every year along with the story behind it, so here goes: When we celebrate Easter, I am reminded of our many blessings of having family and friends close enough to enjoy this day with us. And I smile when I remember Easters past when I was a child, and Mom used natural Easter egg dye with onion skins, turmeric, red cabbage and other vegetable scraps.
The eggs are so beautiful and softly colored. Natural Easter egg dye is a great way to teach kids to be good stewards of their environment. Every part of the egg is used, even the shells. Grind them up and scatter about an inch deep into the soil around your houseplants and gardens. The shells have much-needed natural nutrients!
When we were kids, we liked commercially colored eggs better, but as I grew older, I came to appreciate just what the onion skin eggs meant. More than just coloring, they were a way of telling a story and passing history on to the next generation. I do the same with the little ones today, and have expanded that to include more natural dyes.
Now there’s no real “recipe” for natural Easter egg dye, but here’s how I do it, the same way my Mom, Mary Nader, and her Mom did it.
In a saucepan, place as many papery outer skins of yellow and/or red onions that you have. Cover with an inch of water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until onion skins have colored the water, about 10 minutes.
Use this same method for red cabbage (just chunk it up), beets, spinach, etc. Even coffee grounds can be used.
Strain and add a teaspoon of clear vinegar to the natural Easter egg dye. This sets the dye. I am using Kroger’s clear vinegar, 5% acidity.
To make natural Easter egg dye with turmeric to color the eggs, place two tablespoons of turmeric in 1-1/2 cups water. Stir and place in pan. Cook until it starts to boil. Remove, let cool but don’t strain. Add a teaspoon or so of vinegar. Place eggs in the natural dye, stirring to coat. When you remove the eggs, gently wipe off the turmeric with a soft cloth or run them very quickly under running water.
Depending upon how long they sit in the dye, the eggs made with yellow onion skins will be pale yellow to dark amber. Red onion skins produce eggs that are brick/brown red. Red cabbage is the winner: it makes beautiful teal blue eggs! Turmeric makes natural Easter egg dye that’s more brilliantly yellow than the marigolds my dad, Charlie Nader, used to plant in our tiny front lawn.
I hope you enjoy this old-fashioned heirloom natural Easter egg dye.
Tips from Rita’s Kitchen: DID YOU KNOW TURMERIC IS A POWERFUL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY, GREAT FOR YOUR JOINTS AND FULL OF ANTI-OXIDANTS, AS WELL!
Are your eggs fresh? A fresh egg will sink to the bottom of a glass of water; a very old egg will float.
The best eggs for boiling are older eggs – they peel easier than fresh.