An engaging Easter experiment with natural dyes. BY INA AMOR MEJIA
My son had named her Chica. We were not sure if that was even appropriate over something like "Jake", but Chica it was. We warmed her up under a lamp, gave her water, fed her, built her a makeshift coop in the roof deck, tolerated her incessant chirping, held her, cuddled her, promised her a free-range life. We fell in love with her, all within 24 hours.
To cheer us all up I decided to try an Easter egg experiment with natural dyes. Basically the colors from common food. I wanted a blue and tan motif this year and used dyes made from coffee and blueberry juice (other color ideas below). The project was great fun and really easy. The coffee I used was super strong. "This is super strong," I told the kids. And when I submerged the eggs into it they both said, "Bye eggs."
I had to remind them that the eggs we eat are not future chickens, just eggs. Because of Chica I learned that hens regularly produce these eggs even without a mate. Cool no? And these eggs. I love them. The natural dyes produce such beautiful shades filled with flecks and nuances that look amazing. This is how we like our eggs.
BLUEBERRY & COFFEE-DYED EASTER EGGS
For grey to stone blue and beige to deep-tan colored eggs. MAKES ABOUT 7 EGGS.
You will need
White eggs, hard boiled
STEP ONEIn a mason jar or glass container, mix the coffee with the hot water, then add one tablespoon of the vinegar. Stir well. In a separate mason jar, add the blueberry juice plus the remaining tablespoon of the vinegar. Mix well.
Make the dyes
Dye the eggs
Using more or less the same method, you can use other natural dyes for different colors. Some ingredients like vegetables, require you to boil them in water first (with some vinegar) to extract the colors: Turmeric - Makes a vibrant yellow. Beets - Make a bright pink. Tea - Tan and Brown. Red and purple cabbage - Make a vibrant blue (!!!). Red onion - Maroon. Grape juice - Purple.
DEPTH OF COLOR AND DYEING TIMES
It helps to place the eggs in the dyes while they are still warm. They seem to absorb more color that way. Also, pay attention to how long you keep the eggs in the dyes. It took just 15 minutes to get a beige color from the coffee dye. We removed the other eggs after an hour to 3 hours after. You can even experiment and leave the eggs in the dye overnight.
The natural dyes are safe and will probably seep in a little into the egg whites if you're using hard-boiled eggs. But if you've kept the dyed eggs at room temperature for more than 2 hours, and especially if you use them for an egg hunt outdoors they are not safe to eat.
About the golden egg...
About the golden egg...
I took one of the coffee eggs, and colored it gold using my almost dried up gold metallic marker. Sometimes pushing the marker tip into the egg to get more ink out, thus the dots.
I have good memories of finding The Golden Egg as a child. And also not so good ones of not finding it haha. I made this one in honor of one adorable, unforgettable, curious little chicken.
This one's for you Chica.
And thanks for reading.