As nutrition month comes to end, I wanted to share a different type of “recipe”. This is something a little bit outside of what my job usually involves, but it does include cooking and using food scraps, and I am all about that!
Decorating eggs is a fun Easter tradition in many households, but the challenge that some families run into is what to do with those colourful hard boiled eggs afterwards, especially when the shell cracks and the food dye penetrates. While food colouring is technically considered to be safe, many try to avoid it.
Natural dyes are surprisingly easy to make and it is fun to experiment! Plus, you probably already have everything you need in your kitchen right now!
The basic process is simple – Boil the main colour producing ingredient in a small pot for about 15 minutes and add 1-2 Tbsp vinegar (This helps the dye to penetrate the egg shell). Strain into a jar or bowl and add hard boiled eggs. Allow the eggs to sit for as long as it takes for your desired colour to be produced. I let most of my eggs sit for about an hour in their various liquids, except for the blueberry and the turmeric which very quickly took on colour.
Here is the list of what I used for the various colours:
Pink: Brine from pickled beets – no boiling or vinegar needed. You could also boil beets/beet skin but I had a goal of minimizing food waste and beets were not on the menu this week in my house!
Darker blue: handful of frozen blueberries simmered in a cup of water for about 5-10 minutes. I strained the berries out before adding vinegar so I could use the berries for breakfast the next day!
Lighter blue: Purple cabbage, shredded and boiled for about 15 minutes. I just used the 2 outside leaves that I would have removed anyway, and added just enough water to cover (note that adding vinegar will turn the liquid a fun magenta colour-very cool food science happening here!)
Yellow: About 1 Tbsp turmeric in about 1 cup of water -bring to a boil and add vinegar. This one does not need to simmer (in fact, you could probably get away with not boiling as well). The darker yellow egg was simply left in the solution longer than the lighter coloured one
Pale peach: About 1 Tbsp paprika in about 1 cup of boiling water with vinegar
Orange Brown: The skin of one large white onion, boiled in 1 cup of water for about 15 min with vinegar
Dark Brown: The skin of one large red onion, boiled in 1 cup of water for about 15 min with vinegar
Purple: Soak in cabbage or blueberry solution, then in beet solution.
Dark green: Soak in cabbage or blueberry solution then dip in turmeric solution.
Light Green: To be honest I tried doing green with boiled spinach, and it failed. I then ripped up a spinach leaf and rubbed it all over the egg shell to “paint” it which made quite a lovely pale green! This could also be done with a beet skin for a darker pink egg but again, I did not peel any beets for this adventure.
Feel free to experiment with other colouring agents! Enjoy ☺️