We have a lot of pretty, pre-dyed eggs at the farm. The chickens dye them themselves.
That's right, we have some pretty talented chickens. They produce dark chocolate brown, blue, green, and even pale pink eggs. Now I don't want to mislead you and have you thinking our chickens are in the kitchen, with little chicken aprons on, dyeing eggs. Our girls are good, but they ain't that good!
No, they happen to lay colored eggs. And no, we don't feed them food coloring to make the color of the shell change (one of the top questions we get!). We get colored eggs because of the varieties of chickens we have. Each breed lays a specific color of egg and we often pick breeds for the diversity of egg color -- eggs like you won't find in the grocery store.
But if you don't have magic chickens that lay pre-dyed eggs like our girls, there are a few ways to go about dyeing eggs that don't rely on the neon-colored egg dyeing kits of my youth. The ingredients are as close as your grocery store and they will produce a natural, subdued egg color.
First, to overstate the obvious, you need eggs. Most people use white eggs, but you can overdye brown or colored eggs. Your colors will come out a bit darker, but the effect is pretty just the same. Hard boil your eggs and cool them to room temperature. Then you are ready to start.
My favorite secret indgredient to use is beets. Regular red beets found at the store. I've never used canned beets so I don't know if the results would be the same, but it might be fun to experiment.
To get a dark pink egg, cut up 1 large beet and add it to 4 cups of boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Take it off the heat and let it come to room temperature and then strain out the beets. Add you hard boiled eggs to the dye and let them sit. The longer they sit, the darker the color. Overnight is best, but keep checking to see the varied results.
Happen to have a fair amount of turmeric on hand? Oddly enough, we do. We use it to dye fiber. Turmeric will give you a deep yellow to orange colored egg. Add 5 tablespoons of ground turmeric to 4 cups of boiling water. Stir in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Simmer until the turmeric dissolves. Take it off the heat. Let it come to room temperature and then add the hard boiled eggs. Again, the longer the eggs sit in the dye, the deeper the color.
Use one cup of grape juice mixed with 1 tablespoon of vinegar to get a pale lavender color. (You don't need to boil the grape juice).
Have an abundance of yellow onion skins? Simmer them in 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes, strain off the skins, add 3 tablespoons of white vinegar and let the water cool to room temperature. Add your eggs and you know the drill -- the longer they sit, the deeper their color. With onion skins, you'll get anywhere from a pale yellow to a light orange to a reddish color. It just depends on the color of onion skins that went into the pot and the amount. What's that you say? You only have red onion skins. Add them to the water just like you were using yellow and see what happens. Don't be surprised if you get green!
Do you want blue eggs? Start with half a head of red cabbage. Shred it into 4 cups of boiling water and add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Then boil, baby, boil. Boil for a good 20 minutes. Strain it into a bowl and let it cool. Add your hard boiled eggs and watch them magically turn blue. Again, the longer they sit, the darker they will be.
I think it's fun to experiement with natural dyes. With the store bought dye kits, you knew what you were getting. A red was a red was a red. But with natural dyes, who knows what will come out of the dye pot.
Give it a try this Easter. Send me your pictures. I'd love to see your results. Everyone who sends a picture of the eggs they dyed the natural way will be entered into a pool to win a large jar of our world famous (slight exaggeration) That'll Do Farm Wildflower Honey. (U.S. only please, we can't ship food out of the states.)
Easter is April 8th so I'll need your pictures by midnight on the 7th. Can't wait to see your results!
Some days you just know are going to be interesting. Let's call them "learning experiences". That sounds much better than calling them rotten, stinkin', horrible days, which, I believe is their true name.
For instance, today I learned that one should not allow the Farm Manager to travel to Italy during major fence reinforcement week. If you do, then this little box becomes your friend and not his:
This little box of goodies is evil. With this trusty hammer and box of fence staples, one can go around and make sure the west pasture fencing is secure.
Something else I learned today, the west pasture fencing was not secure. But is is now and I have the sore right arm to prove it.
The third lesson learned today was that when one is securing fencing and one hears ground bees, they always win. Nasty things. Any animal challenging the fence where the ground bees were will win because I did not reinforce there. I will in January, but not today!
Lessons 4 through 7 also involve fencing. No. 4: When hitting your thumb with the evil, evil hammer, you will scream words your mama would be ashamed came out of your mouth. And you won't care.
No. 5: Hitting the same thumb the second time will make you invent new words. Your mama won't be ashamed because she won't be able to understand you.
No. 6: Hitting the same thumb the third time will just make you lay down and weep. No words. Just weeping.
And No. 7: Purple is a beautiful color, just not for a thumb.
But all lessons learned today were not about fencing. Some were about chickens.
Lesson No. 8: Some chickens go bad at an early age. This girl is a prime example: She thinks she should fly into trees to lay her eggs.
Oh sure, she may look innocent, but this bad, bad girl has been doing this a long time. And we have proof.
After discovering Her Majesty's secret laying spot, we also discovered a dozen eggs. This is a very bad chicken. Which brings us to our final lesson of the day.
Lesson No. 9: Clip chicken wings a month earlier next time!
All this learning of lessons is exhausting. Tomorrow, I would really like to learn a whole lot of nothing!