My friend Neill told me a slightly sad / rather funny story of how when he was a little boy his Irish grandmother wrapped onion skins around an egg, tied them to it with string and proceeded to boil the egg. Seven year old Neill was beyond excited that his genius granny was about turn a boring hen’s egg into chocolate. Imagine his disappointed face when reality struck.
For his granny was just using the onions to give the egg shells a lovely brown colour. Which is clever – but just not quite as clever as magiccing chocolate. Especially to a seven year old.
There are all kinds of things that you can boil eggs with to give the shells a beautiful base colour. How much you add of each dying ingredient depends on the size of pan / number of eggs / amount of water. I leave you to your common sense mixed with a bit trial and error.
Green – spinach
Blue – the outer leaves of a red cabbage
Deep purple – red wine into the water works really well
Brown – skins from red onion or beetroot
Yellow – saffron powder, turmeric, or dandelion flowers
As if colour itself isn’t fun enough, there are other things you can do to make your eggs even more fabulous:
– twist elastic bands around the eggs to give a criss-crossy pattern once the eggs are dyed and dried.
– this one from a Grandee in Newcastle: write a name onto the egg in candlewax before immersing it in the water
You need to boil the egg for around 15 minutes for it to be hard-hard-boiled and make sure the eggs are entirely submerged by the water all the time. It stands to reason that the longer you leave the eggs in the dying liquid the stronger the colour will be, so after 15 minutes of boiling it’s a good idea to turn the pan off the heat and leave the eggs in until you are happy with the colour. Then take them out, rinse off and dry.
The eggs are now ready to be further decorated if you want to, but I quite like them as they are with the eggs piled up showing off their different coloured shells.