Easter is upon us, so it’s time to prepare the eggs. The practise of decorating eggshells is quite ancient and appears in many nations’ traditions somehow. In Europe we colour chicken eggs and the latest finds show that ostrich eggs have a long history of being used as art in South Africa. People were carving symbolic patterns into these eggs as early as 60,000 years ago.
There are a lot of traditions of using eggs as a decoration, a nice gift or a game you can play with your kids. Boiled eggs or empty egg shells, it’s up to you which one you prefer to decorate.
Making anything yourself is always more fun than buying it in a supermarket. This year, go wild (literally) and make Easter natural dyes with foraged plants that you find in the wild or in your garden. The coloured eggs you’ll get won’t be as bright as when you use chemical dyes but the colouring part is a great kitchen science experiment. Forget the chemical tablets, use onion, dandelion, tree bark, beetroot, red cabbage or nettle to achieve lovely natural results with plants.
Here is an example how to dye boiled eggs with nettle:
- Use a bunch of freshly picked nettle (chopped) or a cup of dried nettle, place them in a pot.
- Double the amount of water to plant material.
- Bring to a boil covered, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool, still covered.
- If you’d like to make botanical patterns on your eggs, pick small leaves (clover, yarrow leaves, tiny ferns), flowers (chickweed), or herbs (cilantro, parsley) in your garden. Use nylon stockings that should be wrapped around the egg to keep the plants in place. Tie a string around the base to secure the stocking.
- Cook the eggs directly in the nettle tea (white eggs will be easier to colour but it’s your choice).
- Strain and let them dry.
Dying with stinging nettle guarantees vibrant green eggs.
When the eggs are dry, remove the nylon stockings. You can make these shiny by putting oil on a paper towel and rubbing the eggs with it.
Egg-cellent green eggs!