Girls Night: naturally dyed Easter eggs

Last night was Girls Night again.  We’d been planning this one since before our last Girls Night last month.  The objective, besides eating, drinking, and gabbing, was to dye Easter Eggs using natural dyes.  It was a HUGE success, if I do say so myself.  And I think the girls would agree.  We had a terrific assortment of delicious food.  I made homemade Twix tartlets (recipe coming tomorrow).  Another brought an apple strudel.  There was what was supposed to be a lemon meringue cake, but the meringue didn’t turn out right, and the cake was dense, like a cake donut.  We were warned beforehand of this “purgatory” cake, but it turned out to be one of the most delicious lemon cakes I’ve ever eaten–and it was a lot like a cake donut!  Complete with the lemon glaze icing.  I love cake donuts, by the way.  And there was also the obligatory pan of brownies.  No Girls Night is complete without brownies.  Ever.  The wine flowed freely, the conversation ranged from how figs are pollinated to vacuum cleaners.  Seriously, we discussed vacuum cleaners.  Of all things…

But THEN.  Then came the fun: dyeing the eggs.  We had 4 natural dyes simmering on the stove: red cabbage, which was reported to give white eggs a nice, cobalt blue color; turmeric, which will dye the eggs the obvious yellow; red onion skins, which turn white eggs a warm sienna red color; and coffee, which gives white eggs a nice rich brown.  I was also excited to try a green, which I had read you can get by dyeing eggs in the cabbage dye, then soaking them in the turmeric dye for a few minutes.  You are supposed to get a light green color.  We never made it that far.  For some reason, the cabbage dye didn’t work…at first.  All of the dyes were prepared on the stove, with a little vinegar added in to help the dye adhere to the eggshells.  This is similar to how a mordant works for dyeing natural fiber yarns, like wool, if you are familiar with that process.  I cooked the cabbage, and the result was a beautiful blue liquid that I was just sure would dye my eggs the highly anticipated cobalt blue.  I also had a lot of boiled red cabbage.  I actually really like boiled cabbage, though I don’t prepare it that way often.  And you wouldn’t think that boiled cabbage would be on the menu for Girls Night, but a few of us actually ate some of it.  I guess we needed something vegetable-based to offset the oncoming sugar rush.  What we didn’t eat, which was most of the head, the chickens loved, loved, LOVED.  I am truly hoping they don’t produce cabbage-flavored eggs from the sudden influx of cabbage into their systems.

So I was the first to dye my eggs.  The red cabbage dye is prepared, the coffee, turmeric, and red onion skin dyes are boiling on the stove.  I dunked my eggs, 3 in each dye, and cooked them for 20 minutes.  Every few minutes I checked on them, turning them in the dye to make sure they were evenly coated.  All of the dyes appeared to be adhering to the eggs, except the cabbage dye.  The eggs in that mixture were still practically white as snow.  My heart fell.  I was crushed.  Disappointment didn’t even begin to describe my feelings.  What went wrong?  I was stumped.  Eventually I decided that I would let the eggs soak overnight in the cooled cabbage dye.  And you know what, within an hour, the eggs were beginning to show a little blue!  I stuck my jar in the fridge before I went to bed, and it was the first thing I checked when I got up this morning.  I swear I was like a kid at Christmas–I was dying (pardon the incredibly lame pun) to know what my eggs looked like.  I was not disappointed!  They were the beautiful cobalt blue I had envisioned.  They all were slightly different in color, some darker, some lighter, but all a rich, rich blue!  One friend said the one I brought to work for lunch today was “the color of the ocean.”  I was practically giddy.

I am seriously thinking that any time I hard boil eggs in the future, I might throw some red onion skins in with them and turn out some beautiful eggs at the same time.  Why not incorporate a little beauty into the mundane task of peeling hard boiled eggs?  Who know, it might make my egg salad taste that much better.

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Wrapping rubber bands around the eggs before dyeing them will leave nice patterns, if you can get the rubber bands to cooperate!

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These eggs started out brown.  The yellow eggs are the turmeric dye, the red eggs are the red onion skins, and the dark brown eggs are the coffee dye.  Beautiful!

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Here are my eggs, which started out white.  I like the earthy feel of the colors.  They seem organic and real, not artificial.  There’s just something very satisfying about that.  The turmeric gave them a nice sunny golden color.  The red onion skins produced a nice, deep sienna red.  The coffee gave them what I find a pleasant brown color.  And finally, TA-DA!  The red cabbage resulted in a deep cobalt blue after soaking overnight.  But it was worth the wait!

This entry was posted in April 2014 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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