Coloring Easter Eggs Naturally and the History Therof

Archeologists found ostrich eggs decorated with gold and silver in the graves of ancient Sumerians and Egyptians. Eggs symbolized both death and rebirth. The cultural relationships influenced early Christian through mercantile, religious, and political links from the areas around the Mediterranean.

The decorating of eggs at Easter came from the Greek Christian Churches of Mesopotamia, then to Russia and Siberia through the medium of Orthodox Christianity and adopted by the Roman Catholics as well as the Protestants and spread through Europe and eventually to North America.

Although one of the Christian traditions are to use dyed or painted chicken eggs, a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with candy or jellybeans as many people give up sweets for Lent.

The culmination of all of this is the infamous Sunday Morning Easter Egg Hunt where little ones run around like chickens with their heads cut off filling baskets of artificial straw with plastic eggs filled with goodies, hidden by a fictitious Bunny of Pagan origin meant to displace Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as the focus of the day…  Then we all eat ham.


EQUIPMENT: 5 or 6-quart stockpot, large, pierced serving spoon

Adapted from an article by a blog by Ann Brown.

The custom of exchanging colored eggs as gifts predates Christianity and Paas Easter egg dye. You can go old school and use products found in nature and in the kitchen to create a beautiful egg dye. We found some ideas in the Star archives.

Like artificial dyes, shades can vary depending on the concentration of the color and the amount of time the egg remains submersed. In general, natural food dyes are not as potent, color-wise, as their artificial counterparts.

The following foods will work to naturally color eggs:

  • Reds: beets (beet juice), raspberries, or red onion skins.
  • Purples: grape juice concentrate, canned cherries (with syrup).
  • Yellows: ground cumin, turmeric, lemon peels, orange peels.
  • Browns: strong brewed coffee, instant coffee, or brown eggs
  • Blues: canned blueberries (with syrup), or red cabbage.
  • Greens: spinach leaves, dill seed
  • Orange: paprika, yellow onion skins

Here is how to do it.

Place hard-boiled eggs in a large pot. (Do not stack them). Add enough water to cover the eggs. Add vinegar (2 tablespoons per 1 quart of water). Add natural dye ingredients. Per quart of water, add about 4 tablespoons spice (like cumin) or up to 4 cups of solid fruits or vegetables. If you are using a liquid, like grape juice, as dye, use it in place of the water. (You made need to add a bit of water, though.)

Bring water to a simmer over medium heat 275ᵒF (with the lid on and vent open - when whistle sounds) reduce heat to medium-low 175ᵒF and allow to steep, about 15 to 20 minutes.

For darker shades, let the eggs cool in dye mixture, or soak overnight in refrigerator.

Note: Keep in mind that the eggshell is porous so whether you use a natural or artificial dye it will bleed through the shell to the egg white.

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