By Barbara Bray Oakland (MI) Chapter
The joy of growing native plants is not only reveling in their blooming beauty, but also anticipating the next years growth, even while the snow is lying deep around the browns and grays of last years stems. As the days brighten and the snow melts away into tiny rivulets across my garden, I see signs of spring. A small green leaf growing stronger, grasses poking up from the wet soil, and birds chattering away in my back yard as if to say everything is coming alive again.
For thousands of years, springtime celebrations have been part of peoples lives, and perhaps the most treasured symbol of springtime is the egg. The idea of coloring eggs is believed to date back more than 2,000 years. In early times, people probably gathered wild bird eggs to exchange with others to celebrate the return of spring. As chickens became domesticated, people began to color the white eggs with plant-based dyes to resemble the colorful eggs of wild birds
Although many people today use store-bought, artificial dyes to color eggs, beautiful colors can be obtained from natural dyes. When using natural dyes, the eggs are cooked and dyed at the same time. Start with a single layer of eggs in a pan and add enough cold water to cover. Add about two teaspoons of vinegar and then the plant material. The amount of plant material needed depends upon how many eggs you are using. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Check the eggs. If the color is dark enough, remove the eggs from the dye and rinse in cold water until they are cool to the touch. Store the eggs in the refrigerator. If you want a darker shade, remove eggs from the dye. Cool the liquid and the eggs. Then place eggs back into the dye and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the eggs from the liquid and let them dry. Place your eggs on a piece of crumpled aluminum foil to avoid spots.
Unless the eggshells are cracked before or during cooking, neither the color nor the taste of the dyes will affect the peeled egg. Since the plant material used to dye the eggs is edible, any bits of color that seep into the egg will also be edible.
Dadd, Debra Lynn. Coloring Springtime Eggs with Natural Dyes. World wise Wiseguide at www.worldwise.com/eggs
Katz, Adrienne. Naturewatch: Exploring Nature with your Children. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company: Reading, Massachusetts, 1986.
Thomson, Ruth. Spring. (Starting Points). Franklin Watts: New York, 1990.
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Updated: Jun 12, 2005.