Monday, March 24, 2008


Well, this year, we decided to give natural dyes a go for our Easter eggs. It was fun researching what items might lend themselves to various colors and we decided to keep it simple. We chose yellow onion skins, beets, spinach, blueberry juice and coffee. We put the onion skins, beets and spinach each in its own saucepan, covered it with water to about half an inch over the bunch and then brought it to a low boil for about 30 minutes. The only uncooperative ingredient was the spinach so, after about an hour of boiling and simmering and still no real color, we added some tumeric to make a yellowish-green color. The onion skins and beets fared beautifully. The blueberry juice came from a can of blueberries that we planned to use in muffins, so we simply strained off the juice and kept the blueberries. We didn’t do anything to the juice but add some water to thin it out. And the coffee dye was made by simply dumping old coffee grounds into hot water. We then placed all of the dyes into separate stainless steel bowls, added our eggs and then placed them in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, we pulled the eggs out of the dye and were pleasantly surprised at our final product. In the picture above, going clockwise and starting with the dark orange colored eggs, you see the results of the onion skins, blueberry juice, beets, coffee grounds and the spinach/tumeric mixture. By far, the most visually interesting were the blueberry eggs. The way the different eggs took the dye made for very random patterns with an almost etched appearance, in places. Perhaps the most surprising color was the orange from the onion skins. The picture doesn’t do its richness and depth much justice but they were truly beautiful.

When reflecting on the experience I kept trying to figure out why I enjoyed these eggs so much. They looked nothing like eggs I’ve dyed in the past and, in fact, differed greatly from colors that we traditionally associate with Easter. But then it came to me. The colors of these eggs were so satisfying. I think there was something magic in pulling out a color that was hidden within these foods I see on a regular basis. It was like watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis after having watched the caterpillar spin itself away. Of course, the caterpillar had an allure and color of its own, but lurking within was beauty unknown. Perhaps there is something of a lesson for me among these revelations. What beauty lies within me, untapped and unknown?

“Earth’s crammed with heaven.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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