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Easter DIY by the L`Effet gift shop's artists. Organic dyes for your Easter eggs (Part 1 of 3)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What a wonderful guest post we have today! If you love organic products you will love this DIY, I am sure! Did you know you could use organic dyes for your Easter eggs? I knew about the onion peels, but that was it. You can use pretty much any herb or berry to dye your eggs! There are just a few simple rules you should follow to get a good result. The artists behind the L`Effet gift shop were generous enough to share the results of their experiments. Here is their guest post. Enjoy!

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Can you imagine Easter without the dyed eggs? We sure cannot! It is an old tradition beloved by so many people for centuries! We all like making our Ester eggs pretty and special. This year we've decided to experiment with the organic dyes and see what would happen. We are pretty happy with the results and would like to share our experience with you!


You will need:
  • A large bowl of water (for checking the eggs' freshness)
  • Soda, a bar of soap, a lemon and a sponge (for the egg wash)
  • A saucepan for broth preparation and egg cooking
  • Containers for egg soaking (wide-mouth jars will work)
  • Dried oak bark
  • Dried nettle
  • Hibiscus (aka Sudan rose)
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Sunflower oil
  • Clean cloth
  • Chicken eggs
1. Check the eggs' freshness.

White eggs get dyed faster and easier, the colors look brighter and cleaner on them. Eggs with brown shell require more saturated and dark dyes. As a rule, the light colors look subdued on the dark shell. We used the eggs of different natural colors for our experiments to show how the dyes would look like on both of them.


Both, cooked and raw eggs can be stored for a long time, sometimes as long as 2 months. The fresher the egg is, the longer it will last after cooking. A boiled egg will last at least 4 days. It might last as long as 45 days if it is really fresh. On average, it is recommended to store the boiled eggs no longer than one week.

Raw eggs are best kept in a closed container by the back wall in the refrigerator with the blunt end up. Usually the fridge doors have special shelves for the eggs, but the temperature changes there too often (in fact, every time you open your fridge), it is also not cold enough there. All that reduces the time your eggs are going to stay fresh for. 

It is simple to check how fresh your eggs are. Fresh eggs are heavier, so they will sink in water. Older eggs will float under the surface. Really old eggs will float on the surface. 

This test should be done immediately before use, as the eggs cannot be moistened if they are intended for storage.



2. Washing the eggs

Washed eggs are safer, but also the dyes will stick more evenly on the surface when it is de-greased. Use soap, soda and lemon slices for this operation. Wash the eggs in warm water. 


Even a dry lemon (like ours) that looks stale and unappetizing is a great cleaning agent that acts as bleach.

3. Dye broth preparation 

You can use herbs and spices that have been stored for a long time and lost their flavor and properties. The herbs loose their qualities in two years. This is the longest they can be kept, but it is even better to use fresh herbs only (picked up every season) for yourself. You can use fresh herbs to dye your eggs too, of course, but if you do not want to, that's totally ok, you can use your old herbs, they will work just fine. 

This is the dried nettle:


Here is the oak bark that we used:


Hibiscus aka Sudanese rose:


The oak bark and the nettles can be purchased at a herb store. Hibiscus is sometimes sold as a tea or a tea drink in ordinary stores.

When choosing a container for preparing the dye broth consider these: 
  • the liquid should cover the eggs completely;
  • the less water and more colorant, the more intense the color is going to be.


Put the herbs in a pot (or whatever vessel you have prepared) and add cold water. We had a pot that was not enameled so we would not dye it. The thicker the pot's walls are, the less risk it is that the eggs will crack during cooking. 

Simmer the herbs. In most cases, the longer the components are boiling, the darker the color is going to be. Remove the pot from heat and let the broth cool down naturally. The longer you leave it for, the darker the color is going to be. 

4. Cooking and dying eggs.

Take the eggs out of the refrigerator and let them warm up at to room temperature, otherwise the shell might crack during cooking. 


You can strain the broth before cooking your eggs if you want them to stain evenly. Leaves and pieces of bark can affect how even your colour is going to look like. Eggs should be cooked in salted water, then they won't get spilled even if the shell cracks. 


The photo above shows that there is a crack in our egg, but nothing has come out during cooking. Some dye has got inside the egg, but this is ok since it is all organic. 

Add salted vinegar (about 1 tablespoon per one liter of water) to your broth. It will help the dye to stick to the shell better.

Immerse the eggs into the broth. Make sure they are completely covered with it (the water is going to boil out, so you need to consider that too). Start cooking. It will work the best if you cook the eggs no longer than 10 minutes after water starts boiling. 

Remove the pot from heat.


If you need this pot to make a new broth, then gently move the eggs into another container and fill it with the dye. Let it cool down.

5. Soak the eggs for the color enhancing 

You can remove the eggs into the refrigerator after they have cooled in the broth. The color on the eggs will get brighter, though, if you leave them in the dye overnight. The eggs need to be completely immersed in the liquid for a uniform color. Keep this in mind if you want to achieve a non-uniform color! The picture below shows the eggs that we've kept immersed in the dye only half-way:


We left the eggs in the broth overnight. The next day in the morning we took them out and put on the plates letting them dry naturally. Keep all the eggs apart from each other so they won't touch (especially the eggs that are dyed in different colors).  


The dye can be damaged if touched before the eggs are completely dry. This is why you should not wipe them, but let them air dry. However, you can use this feature in your advantage and give the eggs a texture.


6. Oiling the eggs for a color change.

When the eggs get dry you can oil them to enhance their colour. Oiling also helps to keep them fresh for a longer time. Oil gives the eggs finishing, shines them up, makes the colours brighter and preserves them. 

You will need a clean dry cloth and a small amount of oil. Lightly oil the cloth and gently wipe the egg, rubbing oil into the shell. Oil excess can be wiped with a dry cloth. 

Our results

Nettle 

You need a lot of nettle to achieve a dark colour, otherwise if the amount is small it gives the eggs a light shade of brown, that is not really a fun color for an Easter egg. 


The shell of our egg was rough, so the color is uneven. The smoother the egg shell is, the more even the color is going to be.


The eggs dyed with the nettle:

Then we oiled them:


Oak bark

The oak bark gave the eggs  rich brown color with a tint of bronze. This dye is being damaged easily when it is still wet. Try to touch it as little as possible until it dries.

The eggs dyed with the oak bark:


Same eggs after oiling|:


Hibiscus

Different sources told us that hibiscus would dye the eggs in red color. We made a strong hibiscus broth and got a nice blue colour! Then we left the eggs in the broth overnight and got even brighter blue color! 

We half-buried the eggs in the swollen hibiscus flowers and got an interesting texture on the shells.

Here are the eggs dyed with hibiscus: 


Same eggs after oiling:

7. P.S. A few more tips.  

Egg dyeing is a fun process, especially if you have kids. It is easy to end up with more eggs then you need for Easter. To eat them sooner find a nice salad recipe that requires eggs ;)

You can experiment with other herbs too! Use the same instruction for any herbs. 

We did a research and collected some information on what you can use as the natural dyes to colour the Easter eggs:


- Onion peels. You probably know this one. This is a proven dye, that always gives a great result. You can get a lot of shades from reddish brown to orange (depending on the strength of the broth). The more peels you have and the longer you simmer them, the darker the dye is going to be. You can use white or brown eggs. 

We have heard that the red onion peel could give us blue or reddish-purple color, but we have not checked that yet. 

- Cherry bark or cherry branches should make red to pink dye. Make a broth and leave it overnight, then strain it and use it to cook the eggs. 

- Winter crops broth should make a green dye.

- Flowers of the violets should make a purple dye. Pour hot water into a pot with the flowers and soak the eggs in it overnight. 

- Flowers of the violets with added lemon juice should make a lavender dye. Pour hot water into a pot, add a little bit of lemon juice (squeeze it out of a lemon) with the flowers and soak the eggs in it overnight. 

- Spinach broth should make a green dye.

- Parsley, ivy, foalfoot and bracken should make a green dye.

- Pieces of beet root can be just used to rub them on the shell to give it the beet colour.

- Turmeric will supposedly make a golden yellow dye.

- Carrot juice makes an orange dye. Soak the boiled eggs in fresh carrot juice overnight.

- Grape juice makes a lavender dye. Soak the boiled eggs in the grape juice overnight.

- Blueberry can dye the shell in blue, indigo or purple colour. You can rub the berries on the eggs or make a blueberry broth. 

- Blueberry and turmeric broth should make a green dye.

- Cranberries, cherries and strawberries can be used to rub the egg shell with with them to dye the them in pink colour. 

- Elderberry will dye the eggs in blue colour.

- Cranberry broth should make a blue dye.

- The red cabbage leaves can be used to make a broth that will dye the eggs in blue colour.

- Walnut shell broth will dye the eggs in yellow colour.

- Currants and blackberries can be rubbed on the shell to dye it in blue colour.

- If you have the green disinfectant it will dye the eggs in emerald colour. Dilute it until the desired color and soak the boiled eggs in it.

- Coffee (cook the eggs in it) will dye the shell in chocolate to beige colour.

- Black tea (cook the eggs in it) will dye the shell in brown colour.

- Birch leaves broth will dye the eggs in golden or brown colour.

- Chamomile broth will dye the eggs in yellow colour.

- Paprika and chili powder broth will dye the eggs in orange colour.

- Pomegranate seeds will dye the eggs in yellow colour.

- Celery seeds, dried dandelion flowers and dry tansy flowers will dye the eggs in yellow colour.

As a rule, use the fruit juices to soak the cooked eggs in them; berries are rubbed on the shell; and the broths are used to cook the eggs in them.

We wish you a Happy Easter!


The artists of the L`Effet gift shop.
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