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Decorate Eggs Naturally

 

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Decorating eggs is a traditional craft practiced by families and artisans around the world.

Some use decorating methods handed down over generations, such as the elaborately decorated pysanky of Slavic nations or the cascarones of Mexico. Others invent new ways to embellish their eggs each year - painting them, writing on them, turning them into funny faces, or trimming them with odds and ends from around the house. Many folks, though, prefer their eggs simply dyed in a rainbow of hues. For both children and adults, it can be fascinating to see the effects of dipping the eggs into different coloured dyes.

You can decorate either hard-cooked eggs or empty eggshells. Hard-cooked eggs are a bit sturdier for children to use, while empty shells are best if you’re making an egg tree or want to keep the eggs on display for a considerable time. To dye your eggs, use commercial egg dyes, food colouring or dyes you make yourself from foods and spices. According to the American Egg Board, homemade natural dyes are easy to prepare and go well with all-natural eggs.

Simply toss your choice of a handful - or two or three - of one of the materials below into a saucepan. For spices, try a spoonful or two instead. Use your own judgment about quantity. This is an art, not a science. Add about a cup of water for each handful, so the water comes at least an inch above the dyestuff. Bring to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer from 15 minutes up to an hour, until the colour is the shade you want. Keep in mind that the eggs will dye a lighter shade than the dye. Remove the pan from the heat.

To achieve the following colours, try these natural dye materials:

  • Pinkish red - Fresh beets, cranberries, radishes or frozen raspberries

  • Orange - Yellow onion skins

  • Delicate yellow - Orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed or ground cumin

  • Yellow - Ground turmeric

  • Pale green - Spinach leaves

  • Green-gold - Yellow Delicious apple peels

  • Blue - Canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves

  • Beige to brown - Strong brewed coffee or black tea

  • Brown-gold - Dill seeds

  • Brown-orange - Chilli powder

  • Gray - Purple or red grape juice or beet juice

Through cheesecloth, a coffee filter or a fine sieve, strain the dye mixture into a small bowl that’s deep enough to completely cover the eggs you want to dye. Add two to three teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of dye liquid. With a slotted spoon or wire egg holder from a dyeing kit, lower the eggs into the hot liquid. Let the eggs stand until they reach the desired colour. For emptied eggshells, stir or rotate for even colouring. With the spoon or wire egg holder, remove the eggs to a rack or drainer. Allow the eggs to dry thoroughly. Within less than two hours, refrigerate hard-cooked eggs that you intend to eat.

If you’d like a shiny finish, rub the dyed eggs with a bit of cooking oil. You can also use food-safe white glue to add natural decorations, such as beans, seeds, small pasta shapes or large pieces of spices. Be creative and experiment to express yourself in unique ways.

Food Safety Tips for Decorated Eggs

However you decide to colour your hard-cooked eggs, follow these tips if you’d like to enjoy their high-quality protein later:

Wash your hands thoroughly before handling the eggs at every step, including cooking, cooling, dyeing and hiding.

If you won’t be colouring your eggs right after cooking them, store them in their cartons in the refrigerator.

Don’t colour, hide or eat cracked eggs. And don’t eat eggs that have been out of refrigeration for more than two hours.

When colouring the eggs, use water warmer than the eggs.

Refrigerate the eggs in their cartons right after colouring and refrigerate them again after they’ve been hidden and found.

If you plan to use hard-cooked eggs as a centrepiece or other decoration and they will be out of refrigeration for many hours or several days, cook extra eggs to refrigerate for eating. Discard the eggs that have been left out as a decoration.

For other egg-decorating ideas, visit www.IncredibleEgg.org.

Courtesy of ARA content

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