For every Easter of my life, I’ve decorated eggs…. Yep. Even one April, when we were in Hawaii I colored eggs –the condo had a big kitchen, and we took the finished product along on picnics at the beach. Something I can’t resist about those little glass cups brimming bright with color. My favorite part is pouring the colors down the drain when I’m done. My own particular rainbow. To this day, the scent of vinegar always evokes this much loved pastime.
But the little PAAS kits got me thinking. How did kids on the prairie dye their Easter pretties in days gone by? I thought I’d do some digging.
First off, the child might draw a design on a clean egg with candle wax. Then comes the fun.
Mother Nature has a beautiful pallet and plenty of “natural” ways to get the job done. These old-style tricks certainly work today. Onion skins seeped in hot water were and are a popular method of adding various shades of yellow, brown and even red. The skins can simply be added to water for soaking or boiling, or the skins wrapped around the egg with cloth.
The juice from cooked beets can make tints of pink and red. A green leaf wrapped around an egg “leaves” behind a beautiful imprint.
To create a marbled design, a child –and Mama; it seems to have been a project requiring more than two hands--would wrap dill or parsley around an onion-skin covered egg, tying it on with string, before boiling, afterward polishing the finished product with oil.
Turmeric and white vinegar is said to produce a lovely yellow, and paprika with vinegar, a delicious orange. Walnut husks leave behind a rich dark brown color, and elderberry juice a lovely deep purple. Strong coffee with a couple spoonfuls of white vinegar also produces beige, tan, and brown hues.
I learned of an old-fashioned mother re-straining the commercial “blueing” in her laundry rinse water to produce a blue tint. Blueberries and red cabbage will produce purple, my favorite Easter color of all.
For green eggs (to go with that Easter ham LOL) soak eggs in water along with four cups of fresh spinach. (One household hint said to use baking soda for this one rather than vinegar.)
These methods all call for a ratio of one quart to two tablespoons white vinegar, and a good overnight soak before boiling. The longer the egg remains in the water, the more intense the color. Boil the eggs for ten minutes in the juices they soaked in.
Anybody eager to give these old-time methods a try this Eastertime?
Thanks to eHow.com, Holidays Central, and The District Domestic for these down-home hints and helps!)