Saturday, April 16, 2011

Herb Stenciled Easter Eggs

It is that time of year again. Flowers start blooming, the grass turns greener, and eggs get boiled and dyed to celebrate the wonderful holiday that is Easter. My family is Greek, so Easter has always been a fun and huge celebration, with tons of good food and beautiful decorations. Last year I dyed my Easter eggs in the traditional Greek manner by turning them blood red, which you can see in this post from my old 52 weeks project. This year I wanted my eggs to be a bit more cheerful and bright with a nice variety of saturated colors, so I decided to try and do plant-based dyes again to see how they'd turn out. I used spinach leaves for the green, purple cabbage for the blue, beets for the antique/pink, and carrots and paprika for the orange. I also tried making yellow dye with golden delicious apple peels, but it didn't work. The other natural dyes worked really well however; the key was letting them soak in the dye overnight to become really saturated with color. I didn't do this with the antique/pink dye however, because I kind of liked the antique-y coloration it had after an hour of soaking so I took them out to dry. If I would have left them in overnight, they would've turned a nice, rich pink. I also experimented with speckling the egg's surface by adding extra salt to the orange and green dyes, which gave them a fun scatter of spots, but I think I like the solidly colored eggs better. More things to keep in mind for next Easter, I think.


Ingredients:

12 white eggs
12 Carrots, cut into 1-inch thick slices
About 5 Beets, chopped into roughly 1-inch cubes
1 Head of Purple Cabbage, chopped
1 lb Fresh Spinach Leaves, chopped
5 Tablespoons Paprika
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
At least 1 and 1/2 cups of White Vinegar
Salt
1/4 Cup Fresh Soft-Leafed Herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, basil, or mint
2 Pairs of Sheer Nylon Stockings, cut into 6-inch tubes (each pair of stockings makes about 6 tubes)


 When dying eggs it is important to use pots that are not too wide because the eggs will need to be fully submerged in the dye. The wider the pot, the more water it takes to fully submerge the eggs, and the more diluted and weak the dye becomes.  A deep pot that is no wider than 8 inches in diameter is ideal. Each of the four dye mixtures needs their own pot. Also, the more salt you add to your dye, the "spottier" the egg's surface will appear.


To make the orange dye, pour five cups of water into a pot along with the chopped carrots,  paprika, and 1 teaspoon, (or more for speckles), of salt. Mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and allow it to cook for 1 hour.

To make the blue dye, pour five cups of water into a pot along with the chopped cabbage and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and allow it to cook for 1 hour.



To make the pink/antique dye,  pour five cups of water into a pot along with the chopped beets and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and allow it to cook for 1 hour.

To make the green dye,  pour five cups of water into a pot along with the chopped spinach and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and allow it to cook for 1 hour.


Then strain each dye into it's own bowl so that only liquid is left in the bowl. Discard the vegetables. Pour the each dye into a liquid measuring cup, however many cupfuls are possible at a time, and keep track of how many cups of dye there are. Then pour the dyes back into their respective pots. For every cup of dye in each pot, add 3 teaspoons of white vinegar and stir to blend. Allow the dyes to cool for 30 minutes.



Using a paper towel or kitchen cloth, gently rub vinegar into the shells of each of the 12 eggs. Place an herb trimming on the front of the egg and arrange it in the position you want to imprint onto the egg. Set the egg down with the herb on top of it. Place your dominant hand through one of the stocking tubes so that your fingers are sticking out of the end of the tube. Then, hold the egg in that same hand with the herb facing upwards, and place your thumb or forefinger on top of the herb to keep if from moving. Using your opposite hand, gently pull the nylon over your dominant hand until the egg is in the middle of the tube. Carefully remove your dominant hand from the tube, allowing the herb to be held in place by the nylon. Grab the ends of the tube with each hand and flip the egg over so that the stencil is facing away from you. Loosely tie the two ends of the tube together behind the egg. Repeat this process with as many of the eggs as you'd like to stencil.


Place 3 of the eggs in each pot of dye. Bring the pots a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pots from heat and allow them to rest, still covered, for 15 minutes. Place each of them, except the beet dye, in the refrigerator and allow them to sit overnight. If you are making the beet dye, you can allow the eggs to sit in the dye in the refrigerator for about an hour and they will have the antique look featured in these photographs. If you want them to be a very bright and deep pink, let them rest overnight.

If you're making the eggs in the morning, check the coloring of the eggs after 6 to 8 hours, and allow them to soak until they have reached the desired saturation. The longer they soak in the dye, the richer and darker their color will become.


Once they reach the desired saturation, remove the eggs from the dye and then untie and discard the nylon stockings and the herbs. Place the eggs on a wire rack to dry, with the stenciled side facing up. Allow them to dry for at least 1 hour.


After the eggs dry, they will become slightly dull in sheen and saturation. When you are ready to serve them, dip a paper towel in the vegetable oil and gently rub the outside of the eggs with the oil to create a nice sheen and to bring out the vibrance of the colors. Serve immediately, and keep any uneaten eggs refrigerated.

74 comments:

  1. This post is beautiful! I happen to have a head of red cabbage in the fridge, and I'm considering sacrificing it to the cause of dyed easter eggs!

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  2. These are so pretty and delicate looking, how lovely!

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  3. Perfect timing! Love the stencil idea :) Really styles up the egg!

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  4. Oh Eva- what works of art!!! that is amazing-and what a lovely idea as well. I admire your patience.

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  5. These are so beautiful. I love the idea of natural coloring and the trick with the herb is very cool. Thanks so much for sharing :)

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  6. Thanks everyone :) It was quite tedious, but worth it!

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  7. These are gorgeous! I love the natural coloring and the outline of the herbs are just beautiful.

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  8. You did an excellent job with those eggs Eva! i am glad you stopped by my blog, you gave me the chance to come and visit your beautiful home as well. I am always very happy to meet Greeks around the world! Kai tou hronou me igia!

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  9. every year, the saturday before easter I go to my parents house and help my mother dye the easter eggs. I use the same trick with the stocks and parsley leaves, but the colour is given by the dry exterior layers of the onions, that my mother collects for a few months before easter (a huge amount of onions leaves is required), and the eggs are boiled together with the onion leaves, without disturbing them, for 15-20 min. this gives them a marbled pattern, with a red-brown colour. I've never thought I can obtain other colours using natural ingredients, but this year i'll be able to surprise my family. thanks a lot for your post and for sharing.
    codruta

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    1. I would love to see an example of your eggs. They sound awesome.

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  10. This technique is quite well known in Eastern Europe. My family does this every year, but they look different than yours.
    Mine look similar to this http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_p1WQ041Xuc0/S7jTWPLo6GI/AAAAAAAAGJc/NvoozZJX45s/s1600/DSCF1639.JPG

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  11. This is so so beautiful! Spectacular!

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  12. Thank you everyone!!

    @Katerina: Evharisto poli!

    @codruta: That marbling effect sounds beautiful, I will have to try that next year :)

    @Anonymous: What beautiful eggs! Those leaves are so wonderfully big and spread out, what kind of leaves do you use? They have such a great shape to them and fit perfectly on the egg.

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  13. Wow!! Thank you for sharing this. What a lovely idea for Easter :D)!!!

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  14. Wow, those are so gorgeous! I love that all of this is natural! This is definitely something i will try :)

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  15. They are stunning! The colors are so vivid and so pretty! Love them in the bowls. Anthropologie? I have the blue one.

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  16. Wow, what a great idea! These are really lovely. :)

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  17. These are just gorgeous! What a great idea! I really wanted to make some of these today but didn't really know where to start. Thanks for the method.

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  18. Wow, these eggs are beautiful! I wish I had the patience :)

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  19. Woww marvellous stenciled eggs,very attractive..

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  20. Oh my! These are just stunning! And thankyou for letting us know how to do this! :D

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  21. Your eggs are awesome! Thanks for stopping by my blog..it brought me here. Your blog is lovely!

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  22. Eva, these are absolutely lovely! Wonderful video for artistically challenged people like me! :)

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  23. ah! what an incredible idea! i love love love the homemade dyes! im going to have to steal that for sure! fantastic job!!

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  24. These are such fun Eva. What a perfect way to celebrate the holidays!

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  25. These are really lovely and they are a perfect way to prepare for the holiday. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  26. What a brilliant idea! Those eggs look so lovely.

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  27. I've done herb-wrapped eggs with onion skins before but these dyes take it to a whole new level! I can't wait to try them.

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  28. Beautifully done! I've experimented with natural dyes before, and I love the stencil effect of the herbs.

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  29. Thank you all for you kind comments :)

    @Carol: Yes, I did get them at anthropologie too! I just love the patterns, they always have the greatest dishware there.

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  30. So awesome! I've always felt that draining beets after boiling them was just a waste of pigment. What a beautiful way to utilize vegetables :)

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  31. These eggs look amazing! Kudos on your dedication and patience to detail!

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  32. Those are so beautiful! Probably my favorite easter egg idea yet.

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  33. These are beautiful! Both you and I were featured on the list of Easter 'beauties' on the Pioneer Woman cooks with eggs. This was my first time making them and I'm thrilled to read about your process and see the incredible results. Your photography is exceptional! So glad to have found you. Here is the link to the PW post in case you have not seen it: http://tinyurl.com/4ylzpnm

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  34. Wow, what beautiful eggs! My Swiss grandmother also made stencil eggs, but with red onion skins...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  35. Beautiful! The cooking time for the eggs seems a bit long to me though. Has anyone eaten one and can comment?

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  36. Incredible! This is how I am going to dye my Easter eggs this year! Thanks a ton!

    dagny at http://whiskedaway2.blogspot.com

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  37. Thanks all!

    @Boulder: Such exciting news! Congratulations, and thanks for letting me know too!

    @Sam: Jeremy and I had some and they were fine. I made some at a friend's house a few days earlier and her family used the same tactic except they only boiled them for 5 minutes and then let them sit out in the pot for 20 minutes, and they were undercooked. So I think 10 minutes of boiling and 15 minutes of sitting out is a good, fully-cooked combination :)

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  38. Wow, look at all these lovely comments! So nice to see some traffic on here. And LOVE the video: really makes me understand how to get a beautiful result out of the process...

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  39. These are awesome, AWESOME!! Can't wait to try them myself. AND on another note, the red & white and blue & white bowls, can you tell me about those?

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  40. These look beautiful, I like that you've used natural ingredients for coloring them! I gave a few awards to your lovely blog: http://www.gourmantineblog.com/?p=1323

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  41. @Catie: I got them at anthropologie, you can get theme here http://bit.ly/hbJ0yn and here http://bit.ly/hnQn7J I love the design, so fun and whimsical.

    @Gourmantine: Thanks you so much!! I am so incredibly flattered, especially coming from a blogger as talented as yourself :-)

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  42. Have you tried using saffron to dye the eggs yellow?

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  43. No I have not, but that is an excellent idea!! I will try that next year, when the yellow will not elude me again...

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  44. I spent four years in Latvia in the early 1990s, and they save onion skins all winter for this project. I haven't tried it since, as I never remember to save the skins. I was so excited by the idea of different dyes that I dropped everything else and made a batch each of tumeric, black tea, berry tea, and wine. We'll see how that goes. Now I just need to figure out how to get the tumeric off my fingers, pan, and sink! :) Thanks for the inspiration.

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  45. These are beautiful! And I love the bowls, too! Thanks for sharing your technique. I've never really done much egg dyeing, but I may have to try these.
    PS - I'm from Hillsboro, OR! :)

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  46. These are so beautiful! Perfect looking :) I wish I had time to decorate eggs this year, but maybe next year I'll have to give them a try :)

    Sues

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  47. How easy and wonderful! I am going to give this a try!

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  48. Thanks for the egg cooking time response! Will try it out tomorrow! Thanks again for the great idea. Happy Easter.

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  49. Eva, these are some of the most beautiful eggs I've ever seen and your bowls you are photographing them in are gorgeous as well. I will have to bookmark this and give my eggs a try with your technique. :o)

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  50. Thanks for your kind comments everyone!

    @Wendy: Those sound so interesting! Let me know how the different dyes turn out, I bet the black tea will have a really neat antique look.

    @Heasleye: That is awesome! I miss Hillsboro so much, especially the West Union area. It's so beautiful there in the spring and summertime with all the green fields everywhere.

    @Sam: Happy Easter to you as well :)

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  51. Ok, so I love the idea of natural dies but with an impatent 4 year old boy who wants to just plunk every thing rightthisveryminute and a 10 year old going on 13 tween girl fighting for eggs to explore her artistic streak with crayons; the time involved in the natural route wasn't gonna work for me. But the Stencil Idea!! So we went into the yard, grabbed some clovers, clipped them into butterfly and heart shapes; sacrificed some funky lacy patterned trouser socks then plunked away! We set up multiple die pots this time ( I learn, but slowly), gave each of them 18 eggs a piece and we went to town! I have to say, the results were pretty spectacular! We even got the pattern of the socks! We had a blast tonight! Thanks so much for the idea! We may try the natural route next year when the boy hits 5. That's when they learn patience right?

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    1. So very happy they came out for you and that you guys had fun making them! Great job! :D

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  52. Haha! Yes, the natural route may be a bit much for a 4 year old ;) I am so glad they came out well for you! Using patterned stockings is a great idea, too, I will have to try that next year. I bet the clover leaf pattern looked adorable :)

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  53. Has anybody suggested using turmeric for the yellow color yet? That is what we use at the local nature center when the kids dye Easter eggs. Thanks for the great ideas and lovely pics!

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    1. I have heard that's a great yellow dye, I need to try that one this year :)

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  54. What a lovely eggs, you are such very artistic person in making those eggs very lovey.. :)

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  55. Beautiful Easter Eggs. I can use them for my easter party. Thanks for sharing.

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  56. I wonder if curry powder might be a good place to start with yellow

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  57. I wonder if Curry powder would be a good place to start for yellow? Maybe mixed with vinegar?

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    1. I think that would work very well, perhaps tumeric too for a more neon-yellow shade?

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  58. I use dried powdered tumeric for a vividly bright yellowy orange.

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  59. Your dyed eggs are great, a wonderful old craft to bring back for the families. And seems like it's not expensive. I wonder if strong coffee could be used? I wonder if cheesecloth could be used instead of stockings? If your child wants to color on the white egg with crayons, that works like a resist, it's pretty, too. THANK YOU for posting these and the very nice pic's. Yes, I want to try it, too :)

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    1. Thank you so much! I think cheesecloth would probably work, but it is not as stretchy as nylon so there might be some dye streaks on the back where the cloth is twisted and tied off. I bet you could use strong coffee as a dye for an antique brownish look. Let me know if you try that method and how it turns out :)

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  60. These are great! I'm involved with herbs so I have to try these, Easter or no, There is a picture of brown eggs with a green herb shape. How do you do this?
    hphj

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