I decided to jump on the Easter bandwagon this year.
Last year, Abby wasn’t even a year old so we didn’t bother. But this year she seemed ready to experience the strange pagan rituals of Easter.
We were planning to have her participate in an egg hunt hosted by a bedouin camp in Wadi Rum. We’d spent a night at the camp during the last few days of my mom’s visit and we thought it would be the perfect way to introduce Abby to the strange and wonderful ritual that is egg hunting. But the morning of the egg hunt the manager at the camp told us they were expecting over 300 people for the hunt and they’d hired a DJ. Uh…no. We hightailed it back to Aqaba. The good news was that Abby didn’t know what she was missing so it was no big deal.
Instead, I home-brewed some vegetable-based dyes (no Paas coloring tablets in Aqaba), boiled a half-dozen eggs, and Abby colored her first Easter eggs. She loved it!
And I had a blast watching her plunk eggs into the jars of colorful liquid. But she wouldn’t leave the eggs alone long enough to let the colors set, so this is what the first batch looked like:
Didn’t matter. She had fun and that was all I cared about. I actually think her favorite part was ripping each egg apart, crushing the shells and mashing the egg yolks into a paste.
After our day of coloring and smashing eggs, I decided I wanted to try the vegetable-based dyes again. I had used a variety of ingredients for the first batch. I just experimented with various fruit and vegetables. Here’s what I tried:
Yellow: Ground turmeric
Orange/Brown: Green tea
Pink/Red: Hibiscus tea
Violet: Black currant juice
Pink/Magenta: Pomegranate juice
I also had a small bottle of artificial green food coloring so I used that to make a bright green dye. It was Ba-right. It was also very artificial looking next to the natural dyes.
The first batch of eggs came out so pale because, like I said, they only soaked for a few minutes. I was curious to see what they would look like if they soaked a little longer. Also, I wanted to try some other vegetables like purple cabbage and beets.
My inner Martha Stewart was unleashed.
After Abby went to bed that evening, I did what any tired mother of a toddler would do:
I stayed up late experimenting with egg dyes.
First, I put a head of chopped purple cabbage in a pot with 2 quarts water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt and brought the mixture to a boil. Then, I let it simmer for 30 minutes. Then, I strained the cabbage and reserved the dark purple liquid.
Here’s a picture:
Then, I did the same with two large beets (chopped and peeled) for pink/red dye. And then I tried 6 tablespoons of ground turmeric for yellow dye. Each mixture contained (aside from the aforementioned vegetable or spice) 2 quarts (or 4 cups) of water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt. I brought the beet and turmeric mixtures to a boil and simmered for 30 minutes, just like I did with the cabbage.
Here are more pictures in case you care:
I let the dyes chill in the fridge overnight, along with a fresh batch of hard boiled eggs.
Then, I fell asleep with my clothes on.
The following morning, Abby tested the new dyes. But this time, as soon as she dropped the eggs into the bright liquid, I whisked the jars away from her curious little hands and into the safety of the kitchen. Martha Stewart was in full effect. Abby was okay with it. I told her the eggs needed to take a nap.
Two hours later, this is what we got:
The blue eggs were from the purple cabbage juice, the yellow from the turmeric, and the green one was the artificial food coloring again. I’ve heard kale or spinach both work well for green, but I didn’t have either of those on hand. Something to try next year.
Unfortunately, the beet liquid turned the eggs (not pictured) a shade Bret described as “real estate white.” They just looked beige to me. Beige and disappointing. Bummer. I think next time, I’ll leave the skins on? Any advice on that, readers?
And because I’m unable to leave well enough alone, that evening I brewed a few cups of hibiscus tea mixed with white vinegar and salt and dropped the “real estate white” eggs into that mixture. I was hoping the deep red hibiscus tea would turn the eggs pink. Or at least a pale shade of coral. Something spring-y.
And then I got distracted by various things online, the state of my old pedicure, and then passed out in my clothes again. What is wrong with me?
The next morning, I hobbled out to the kitchen and found a glass jar of putrid purple liquid with two very soggy tea bags floating in it. Oops! I had forgotten to remove those goddam hibiscus tea bags! My heart actually jumped a little. Did the eggs turn pink?! After 8 hours, they MUST have, right?
No. They turned black.
Kinda Nightmare Before Easter. And kinda sad that this whole thing became my life’s work for a few days.
I’m planning to hold off on any further dyeing projects until next Easter. I hear onion skins are a good choice as they can make cool swirly patterns on the eggs. We’ll see if I have the patience next year to sit there and remove a bunch of smelly onion skins.
I guess this is what happens when one has children. One starts investing a lot of time and energy into the art of dyeing boiled eggs. It could be worse. I could be dressing up in a plush bunny costume.