In the past few years I have been slowly switching from artificial store-bought dyes to food-based dyes for my Easter eggs.
Last year I used beets and coffee and this year I added tea and a dash of paprika to the mix. The results are the best so far.
I started with pastured eggs from my local farmers market (the nearest one is in San Mateo). They came in two sizes: tiny Poulet eggs, which greatly varied in color, from white to blue to brown, and regular sized white shell eggs.
First, I set up my coloring station on the kitchen counter.
- Cups and wine glasses to hold the eggs for overnight soaking.
- Egg cartons to rest the eggs on the next day.
- Textured stockings, which I cut into squares for wrapping the eggs in.
- Twine to tie the eggs with.
- Parsley leaves.
Then, I got to cooking up my colors.
I put a couple of cups of water in a pan, then added 4 small sliced beets. After they were cooked (about 5-10 min in boiling water), I strained the water into 3 cups/wine glasses, which I filled only about 1/3 to 1/2.
Beet juice looks gorgeous wine red, but note that the eggs turn out more of a grayish hue.
Coffee gets you a darker shade of brown, which I love. One cup water to one heaping table spoon of coffee (I used instant coffee).
This was the first time I used paprika to color eggs, and the result is that reddish egg you see in the photo. I used only about 1/3 of a spoon to 1/2 cup of chamomile tea.
Since I didn't want to use my fancy green tea for this, I used 2 bags of rooibos tea in 1 cup of water. The eggs turned a little pink/gray, which is great. I also used chamomile tea to get the palest shade of yellow. It's very subtle, as you can see in the photo above.
To make the parsley leaf imprint on the egg, first hard boil your eggs. Once done, dab a bit of white vinegar on a paper towel and wipe the eggs clean. Place a parsley leaf on the egg and wrap it in a square piece of stocking, then tightly tie the stocking with your twine.
Soak the eggs in hot color liquid over night, then untie in the morning and pat dry. Let the eggs rest for a few minutes, and for a finishing touch, dab a little sunflower oil on a napkin and gently wipe the eggs to get them to shine.
Arrange your naturally dyed eggs in a basket, throw in some paper flowers and let your family/friends/guests choose their eggs for cracking (that's how we do it in the old country :)).