My daughter made a funny observation: “All year long you buy brown eggs, and then at Easter, you buy white eggs and dye them brown.” I never thought of it that way, but it’s true. My family enjoys eating eggs, and once a year at Eastertime, I LOVE dying them naturally.
In my tradition, you save your onion skins throughout the period lent. Our orthodox religion asks that we observe Lenten tradition by following a vegan diet. The use of onions to flavor and complement meals is escalated, so by the end of the 40 day period, you have quite a few onion skins. But if you would like to try this and don’t have a stockpile of skins, you can ask your local produce person if they will save the skins for you when they clean onions…or just go buy an onion and fill the rest of your bag with skins.
I used red and brown onion skins. Although the result is still a warm brown color, the red skins produce a more coffee brown color, and the brown onions a deep brick red/brown. Both are beautiful.
I’ve experimented with other natural dyes , but the beautiful and rich color of the onion skins is my favorite. Unlike dying colorful eggs, you do not dye these eggs one by one but in a batch. The eggs are prepped and then boiled in the skins….so once your prep work is done, but rest is just cooking and sitting time.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Red or Brown onion skins (or both), enough to fill a soup pot loosely
Eggs (2-3 dozen…it’s up to you)
Leaves for imprints – I used parsley (flat and curly leaf), and mint. Rose leave look really beautiful too. I’ve also used small daisies.
Nylon stockings! – I buy cheap nylons from the dollar store in my area. If you have old clean stocking you want to cut up, that works too. and of course, water and large soup pot or two.
The way my grandmother would dye the eggs is to just boil the eggs in the onion skins and beautiful solid reddish brown eggs would emerge. She would then use a q-tip and some cleanser and rub off the dye in cross patterns over the surface of the egg. I always remember my grandmother at this time of year because I would go help her dye the eggs. She took a lot of pride in her beautiful creations as do I. Through the years though, I’ve started imprinting my eggs with leaf patterns, experimenting with different leaves and flowers, but I always make some of my grandma’s traditional eggs with cross patterns as well.
Let’s start: Cut the nylon stockings into about 4″ tubes. This can be done by cutting off the toe of the stocking and then just cutting up toward the waist. Place a sprig of parsley or leaf of your choice on your egg and stretch the nylon over the leaf pressing it tight against the egg. Pull it toward the back of the egg, stretch so it’s as tight as possible, and then knot the back. Do this with all your eggs. If you’d like to leave some just plain, then don’t wrap them.
Place the eggs in your soup pot with the onion skins. You don’t want to stack your eggs on top of each other. That will create a more mottled appearance when the dye doesn’t get into contact with the egg. So allow room in your pot, but you can have them close to one another. Add water to cover the eggs. Boil over medium heat turning the flame down once it starts to boil.
You want to make sure that the eggs are submerged in the water, so use a wooden spoon from time to time to gently push them under and to cover more onion skins over the top of them. Boil your eggs for 15-20 minutes and then turn off the heat and allow them to sit in the water for about an hour. You can check on the color and see how deep they’ve gotten before removing them. If it’s the color of your choice, they’re read. Note: If you’re using brown onions, they can range from pale yellow (very little time in water) to orange to reddish brown. Just make sure your eggs have cooked before removing your eggs from the water.
This is how they look once the onion skins have released their color. In this picture on the left, the egg is a light orangey tan color.
Traditionally, we go for the darker version of color, so let my eggs soak for about an hour. Once done, gently take your eggs out of the water and pull off the nylon and leaf and gently rinse with cool water. Place on a paper towel to dry. One dry, I use a little coconut oil (or you can use olive oil) on a paper towel and just polish them to give a little shine.
They’re now ready to enjoy! The eggs on the left were dyed using the red onion skins, flat leaf parsley and mint leaves.
The eggs below were died with brown onion skins using flat and curly leave parsley.
Have fun with it! Please let me know if you try this recipe and how it turned out for you. : )
Happy Easter everyone! Kristos Haryav ee Merelotz! Ortnyal eh Harootiunuh Kristosi!