Hang around quilters long enough – just 10 minutes ought to do it – and you’ll find they are a bit crazy about colors. And what a wonderful time of year it is for those who love colors. Colors are starting to come at us in all directions from spring fashions to decorating ideas to flowers for your garden. Even in the foods we eat. With Easter fast approaching it especially means Easter eggs!
We all know about the little tablets you buy in the flat square package at the grocery. A series of cups, a little water, a little vinegar and a couple of hard-cooked eggs and – Voila! Some really, I mean really, serious colors can happen.
But let’s just say we’re feeling a little “natural” this year. What can we do in our own little kitchens to get some color on those eggs?
Before we get all “artsy” let’s talk about eggs. Eggs are a nutritionist’s dream for eggs contain all the nutrients from which a complete organism develops. They are the protein all other protein sources are measured against. In cooking/baking eggs can provide structural framework for leavening, they can thicken, smooth, tenderize, clarify, bind, enrich, glaze and more. And fresh eggs do this better than older eggs. How do you know if your eggs are fresh? Place then in a bowl of cold water. Fresh eggs will not float. For hard-cooked eggs, do not use eggs fresher than three days old as these will turn greenish and be difficult to peel.
To hard-cook you eggs (never boil them!) place them in a saucepan deep enough to hold them without crowding, add cold water to one inch about the eggs. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Turn off heat; set pan off burner, cover and let stand fifteen minutes, after fifteen minutes plunge them into cold water. Keep eggs refrigerated – no more than 2 hours out of refrigeration before eating!
So much for science and cooking. What were we saying about color? Ah, going natural…..
These Easter egg dye recipes are all food or plant-based and create beautifully subdued shades. Just simmer beets, blueberries, or other natural ingredients in a cup of water with a dash of vinegar to create the colors. Leave eggs soaking in the dye in the refrigerator overnight for the richest colors; just a few minutes will work for more subdued variations.
Bluish-Gray Mix 1 cup frozen blueberries with 1 cup water, bring to room temperature, and remove blueberries. A violet blue can be obtained with violet blossoms, hibiscus tea and small quantities of red onion skins (boiled) or red wine.
Blue Cut 1/4 head of red cabbage into chunks and add to 4 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 Tbsp. vinegar. Let cool to room temperature and remove cabbage with a slotted spoon. Some blue tones will also be achieved with red cabbage leaves (boiled).
Peel the skin from 6 red onions and simmer in 2 cups water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 3 tsp. white vinegar.
Faint Green-Yellow Peel the skin from 6 yellow apples. Simmer in 1-1/2 cups water for 20 minutes; strain. Add 2 tsp. white vinegar. Simmer 4 oz. chopped fennel tops in 1-1/2 cups of water for 20 minutes; strain. Add 2 tsp. white vinegar.
Orange Take the skin of 6 yellow onions and simmer in 2 cups water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 3 tsp. white vinegar. Cooked carrots, chili powder and paprika will also give you orange. But nothing will rhyme with orange!
Faint Red-Orange Stir 2 Tbsp. paprika into 1 cup boiling water; add 2 tsp. white vinegar. Red is tough from naturals but herbalists might use St. John’s wort or dandelion root.
Yellow Rich yellow: Simmer 4 oz. chopped carrot tops in 1-1/2 cups water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 2 tsp. white vinegar. Mustard-yellow: Stir 2 Tbsp. turmeric into 1 cup boiling water; add 2 tsp. white vinegar. Various shades: Steep 4 bags of chamomile or green tea in 1 cup boiling water for 5 minutes. Pale yellow: Chop 4 oz. goldenrod and simmer in 2 cups water for 20 minutes; strain. Add 2 tsp. white vinegar. Faint yellow: Simmer the peels of 6 oranges in 1-1/2 cups water for 20 minutes; strain. Add 2 tsp. vinegar.
Brown-Gold Simmer 2 Tbsp. dill seed in 1 cup water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 2 tsp. white vinegar.
Brown Add 1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 cup strong coffee. Black tea or black walnut shells (boiled) are also an option. For brown.
Pink Faint pink: Chop 4 oz. amaranth flowers and simmer in 2 cups water; strain. Add 2 tsp. white vinegar. Simmer the skins from 6 avocados in 1-1/2 cup water for 20 minutes; strain. Add 2 tsp. white vinegar. Mix 1 cup pickled beet juice and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Dark pink: Cut 1 medium beet into chunks and add to 4 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 Tbsp. vinegar and let cool to room temperature; remove beets.
Lavender Mix 1 cup grape juice and 1 tablespoon vinegar.
Just remember, natural dyes are still dyes. One very helpful hint is to line all work surfaces with layers of newspaper before dyeing eggs. And I'll see you over at the sink natural dyes still get all over ones hands.
We are a friendly guild that meets at: Blanchard Road Alliance Church located at 1766 S. Blanchard St. in Wheaton, Illinois, 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month.
All are welcome.
There are currently about 45 members, which makes us just the right size to have a lot going on, but still small enough to know everyone and make lasting friendships.
(c) 2010, Village Quilters Quilt Guild, Wheaton, IL