Thursday, April 5, 2012

More Ways to Color Eggs Naturally!

Natural eggs
Beautiful Colored Eggs Courtesy of Mother Nature
Even though my kids are all adults and I do not have grandchildren, I cannot resist coloring a few eggs every year!  They remind me of spring, of my own childhood and I simply love how they create a naturally beautiful elegance to my brunch table!  Besides, I love making fancy Deviled Eggs!  If my post on Monday outlining my favorite way to naturally color Easter eggs wasn't quite your style, here are some suggestions using other foods and spices to create beautifully colored eggs!

The entire post also includes ways to incorporate liquid food coloring, but since that's not "how I roll" I didn't include it.  If you want those directions simply click on My Pet Chicken Blog below and she will take you through the process step-by-step.

I grew up on a farm in South Dakota and we always had chickens.  Now many of my former neighbors in Spokane have joined the Urban Farming movement and keep a few chickens in pretty little coupes in their backyards.  Some of them have chickens that actually lay colored eggs like the ones in the photo!  Mother Nature really is an artist . . .

Three Ways to Dye EggsMarch 29, 2012

The second way way to dye your eggs is to use natural egg dyes rather than food coloring. To be frank, this is way more trouble. I’m a trouble maker, though, so it’s right up my alley. Using natural dyes often takes several pans for cooking up the colors, and then the eggs sometimes need to soak for additional time overnight to get any depth of shade. On the other hand, it makes your house smell all kinds of interesting. For this latest batch, I colored some eggs with blueberries, making my house smell like muffins. Then I did a set in curry (as I was out of straight turmeric), making the kitchen smell heavenly… and giving me a terrible craving for Indian food.

Eggs in beet juice
Alas, the beet juice eggs didn't smell like much.
If you choose to “go natural” be sure to tell your kids or grandkids how long it will take, or you may end up suffering from the egg version of the “are we there yet?” chant!  That said, the colors are amazing– often textured and with the feel of real eggs–perhaps exotic eggs, but real–rather than bright or garish as eggs colored with food coloring can be.
Here are some commonly used natural dyes:
  • Red cabbage – pretty blue
  • Yellow onion skins – warm gold
  • Turmeric (or curry) – also gold (“old gold” as we say in West Virginia)
  • Chamomile tea – pale yellow
  • Red onion skins – jadeite green
  • Beets – pink/magenta
  • Grape juice – indigo
  • Blueberry – bluish or purple
  • Coffee – earthy brown
There are many other natural dyes, but these were always my favorites. Using natural dyes is more tricky. The eggs also tend to look drier when done, and the color scratches off pretty easily. It’s a look I love, though!
Eggs colored with natural dyes
These eggs were colored with natural dyes, including coffee, turmeric and yellow onion skins, beet juice and blueberries. The speckles you see were originally on the eggs when laid, and the dye stained them darker than the rest of the shell.
The third way—and by far the easiest— is simply to let your hens color your eggs. Easter Eggers lay eggs in pretty shades of blue and green that really need no improvement by the hand of man, and even brown egg layers produce many many shades, including pale parchment, warm brown, pink, chocolate, terra cotta and many colors in between.
Natural eggs
Colored by hens, not by me!

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