For most of my childhood coloring eggs, wearing fancy hats and chocolate bunnies were an integral part to my family’s annual celebration of Easter. I’ve been carrying on the tradition with my own kidlets, but I’ve officially had it with those Easter egg coloring/dye kits. They’re so messy and my eggs never turn out as vibrant, fancy or pretty as the ones featured on the kit’s packaging.
So when I read in our church bulletin a few weeks back that a woman from our parish was going to host a workshop demonstrating how to dye eggs with onion skins, I was intrigued. I had never heard of this technique before, but from what I could find out it looks like its roots are in the Greek culture. As you seem, the results are beautiful and unique looking Easter eggs!
This is a super easy and all-natural way to dye your eggs. Granted, all your eggs will basically be the same color – different hues of red and brown depending on your onion skins and how long you let them cook – but you can create some stunning designs with botanicals.
The basic essentials to create these beauties are eggs, onion skins, old knee-highs and some sort of twist tie or elastic band. Once you’ve created your water/dye, you can re-use it create multiple batches of naturally dyed eggs.
Two quick tips before you start:
- Plan on using stainless steel utensils, pots and colander/strainer. You do not want to use anything porous (i.e.wood, ceramic, plastic) because they may be stained by the dye.
- You also need to use A LOT of onion skins for this technique to get a good color. Make sure you ask friends, family, your local grocer or even a local restaurant to keep the skins aside for you. You are only using the dry, fragile, crinkly outermost skin of the onion, no white or green parts of the onion.
Now from a quick Internet search of “dying eggs with onion skins,” I see there are many variations of this technique (knee highs vs cheese cloth, boiling the onion skins in the pot or wrapping the eggs with the skins, red onion skins vs brown, using botanicals vs. rice grains), so there isn’t one right way, but here’s how I did it:
Uncooked large white eggs at room temperature (make sure the eggs don’t have any stamps on them)
Skins from yellow onions (lots of them, enough for a 1 inch cover of the eggs in the pot, more skins result in a richer hue)
Small pressed botanicals (look for leaves or flower petals that can fit on the side of an egg, press them by putting them in between the pages of a heavy book)
Old knee-highs (color doesn’t matter)
Twist ties or small elastic bands
Large stainless steel pot
Large stainless steel colander
Stainless steel slotted spoon or ladle
Any type of food oil for polishing
- In a large stainless saucepan, place onion skins onions and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in 4 1/2 cups of water and simmer uncovered. Do not bring it to a boil otherwise you’ll crack the eggs.
- While water is simmering, cut knee highs into about 4 inch square sheets.
- Examine raw eggs for cracks and carefully remove any material clinging to the surface of the eggs.
- Take a pressed botanical and place it with the flattest side up against the raw egg. You want the leaf or flower petal to lay flat against the egg, make sure that it is smooth and tight against the egg, if it isn’t the dye will get underneath and you won’t get an imprint.
- Take the knee-high square and wrap it around the egg and botanical securing the ends together by twisting tightly and using elastic band or twist tie to keep in place.
- Place eggs in simmering pot of water, vinegar & onion skins. Making sure eggs are fully submerged and covered completely by the onion skins.
- Dyeing time affects the color of the eggs. You can start checking the color of the eggs at 20 minutes.
- When desired color is reached, remove eggs from pot with stainless steel slotted spoon and gently place in stainless steel colander to cool (do not run cold water over them, you do not want the eggs to crack).
- When eggs are cool enough to handle, remove the knee-high and botanical to reveal your egg. You can use a bit of olive (or any other edible) oil and polish with paper towel.
I placed my eggs in a little crystal basket to really showcase them. I can’t wait until the family comes over on Easter, I know they will be wowed by these beauties – and it was all-natural and so simple to create!
Now it’s your turn to share. What’s your favorite part of celebrating Easter or Passover?
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