Natural dyes for Easter eggs from vegetables, spices
Where were the eggs? Were the chickens on strike?
The chickens were on strike. They crossed their drumsticks and clucked: Nope. Perhaps it was wages, hours or conditions. Perhaps it was solidarity with their fellow food-service workers. Can’t say. All I know is the cold case was bare, save for a sign: No eggs.
At first I shrugged. Egg salad isn’t imperative; there’s always tuna. As the strike dragged on, I worked out work-arounds. The egg-free chocolate-chip cookie can be managed, via cream cheese. The egg-free pancake can be managed, via yogurt. The egg-free hard-boiled egg? I was stumped.
As the days stretched sunnier, as plush bunnies began to peer from the endcaps, virtual eggs were suddenly plentiful, molded from chocolate, from plastic, from sugar. None of which take to dyeing. I paced the grocery-store aisles, scheming.
Then I noticed the cold case, plush with real eggs. Seems the chickens had reached a settlement, sparing me the heartbreak of carving an egg from tofu, simply for the pleasure of dyeing it pink.
Resourceful Dyed Eggs
1 quart water
One of the following coloring agents:
3 cups (about 4 whole) grated raw beets (for pink)
3 cups (about half a head) grated red cabbage (for blue)
Easy-to-make sweet rolls perfect for Easter morning
2 tablespoons ground turmeric (for yellow)
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
4 hard-cooked white eggs, see recipe
Settle water and one coloring agent in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until intensely colored, 30 minutes.
Let cool to room temperature. Strain out beets or cabbage (no need to strain turmeric). Stir in vinegar.
Add hard-cooked eggs; turn once to eliminate bald spots. Chill overnight. Pretty, right? Makes 4 dyed eggs.
Hard-cooked eggs: If you’ve got a two-tiered strainer pot (the kind often used to boil noodles), this is a good time to find it. Settle cold large eggs in a single layer in the strainer portion or in a saucepan. Pour in cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring just to a boil. Pull pan off heat, cover and let rest, 16 minutes. Pull out strainer (or scoop out eggs with a slotted spoon) and submerge in a pan of ice water. Cool, 10 minutes.