Natural Egg Dyes

I’ve been intrigued by the idea making your own egg dyes from foods. Artificial dye isn’t a great thing for anyone to be eating, and although we don’t eat the egg shells, in years past some dye has soaked through the shells onto the hardboiled eggs. So this year I decided to try making my own dye.

First I hardboiled 9 white duck* eggs (I have a chicken egg allergy) and placed the boiled eggs into glass jars. Then I made these dyes:

  • yellow: orange peel boiled in 1.5 cups water, with 1.5 tsp. white vinegar added when dye is poured over eggs
  • pink: the juice from a can of pickled beets
  • purple (blue?): several large purple cabbage leaves boiled in 1.5 cups water, with 1.5 tsp. white vinegar added when dye is poured over eggs
  • orange: dried outer skins from several yellow onions boiled in 1.5 cups water, with 1.5 tsp. white vinegar added when dye is poured over eggs
  • brown: leftover strong coffee, with the grounds thrown in with the egg as well (I put some vinegar in with this for good measure, although some people don’t as the coffee should already be acidic enough to set the color)

We had several blue and green chicken eggs, as well as brown, which came ready-dyed from the hens. ๐Ÿ™‚ So I decided not to attempt more blue and green colors. If you are wanting to add these colors then the following could be used:

  • blue: 1 cup frozen blueberries boiled in water, with 1 tsp. vinegar added for each cup water
  • green: spinach boiled in water, with 1 tsp. vinegar added for each cup water

You can see in my picture the array of colors in the jars. They are so jewel-like; the picture doesn’t do it justice. For several colors I did not have enough dye water to cover the eggs completely, so I stuffed some of the oranges, beets, and cabbage down around the eggs to raise the water level. Boiled orange peel smells heavenly . . . can’t say the same for the cabbage! ๐Ÿ™‚

The eggs should be left in until you are happy with the amount of color, and then removed from the dye and dried with paper towels. It looks to me like the beet colored ones may be done tonight (after only 1-2 hours), but the rest will be going in the fridge in their dye overnight.

I will post a picture of the final product tomorrow!

My children thought the whole process was amazing, especially which kind of food we were using for each color. Of course, the event wasn’t the same as the dipping procedure we’ve done in the past . . . it’s more watch and wait, and less hands-on for the kids. (But it’s also less mess for mom to clean up!) They will get to help me pull the eggs out in the morning and dry them. If we had started earlier in the evening, we would have had time to use a white crayon to make designs on the eggs before their dye bath; maybe next year!

Update: Next Morning

Here is a picture of our eggs the next morning. (Left to right dyes: natural chicken blue eggs, orange peel, yellow onion skin, cabbage, beet juice, coffee -back, natural chicken brown -front.)

I was surprised that it wasn’t the beet juice that gave the strongest color, but the cabbage and onion dyes. I actually took the eggs out of the onion dye last night, leaving all the rest in overnight.

The yellow (orange peel) was a disapointment, with only a tinge of yellow staying on the eggs. Perhaps a naval orange isn’t the right kind of peel, but I think I’ll try paprika boiled in water next year.

We noticed that it was easy to make smudges on the eggs when blotting the eggs dry, so be careful, or rub with an intentional pattern in mind.

All in all, it was a colorful success!

 

Breakfast: Off to a Great Start

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet the standard American breakfast of cereal, or a bagel and sugar-yogurt, or nothing(!) leaves much to be desired. Mainly protein and good fats.

Since my husband and I discovered a couple years ago that we both have a tendency towards hypoglycemia, we’ve revamped breakfast with more protein and are feeling the benefits of more stabilized blood sugar through the morning.

Here are a few menu suggestions:

Good Morning Smoothie
This is my husband’s daily standard: it’s fast, easy, totally portable in an insulated cup, and tastes delicious. (Who wouldn’t like waking up to a milk shake? OK, it’s not a milk shake, and doesn’t even have sugar in it, but it is that awesome.) Get my recipe here.

Oatmeal with a Sausage Link
This is a standard in our house for the kids, and I often join them. We buy organic rolled oats in a 20 pound bag from Azure Standard, and it’s only pennies a day for this breakfast mainstay.

To reduce the anti-nutrient phytic acid, most grains should ideally be soaked or sprouted before use. (Read this article Be Kind to Your Grains, and Your Grains Will Be Kind to You.) I like to soak my rolled oats covered by an inch of filtered water overnight in the pot I will cook them in; this also helps them cook up a little faster in the morning. I add Course Sea Salt (the grey, moist kind) from Trader Joe’s and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg, and cook them on medium heat, stirring until all the water is absorbed. We then top with raw honey, and when I’m feeling like a really nice mommy, pecans and dried cranberries, or raisins, and/or butter, and/or freshly ground flax seed.

When we add sausage as a protein to this meal, I like to look for a natural chicken sausage, like the delicious Isernios one that Trader Joes carries. Since pigs are scavenger animals, they tend to have much greater amounts of toxic buildup in their meat than chicken and beef. We aren’t a pork free home (my German-heritage husband holds the line there!), but we do try to limit our intake.

Soft Boiled Eggs, Sausage, Toast
Like many Americans, I was very familiar with the greasy “bacon and eggs” breakfast, but had never tried a Soft Boiled Egg until I met my future parents-in-law, who are German. Not being a fan of straight from the shell hard-boiled eggs, I was delighted to find that I really liked this new version . . . or rather, a very old version, still enjoyed daily in many areas of Europe. Read my recipe for Soft-Boiled Eggs here. The gentle cooking of the egg yolk preserves the Omega3 and Omega6 essential fatty acids (good fat), which can be destroyed by heat.

Add a couple of links of chicken sausage, and sprouted-grain toast, and you’ve turned the greasy American breakfast into a good fat/protein/complex carb powerhouse meal! (Hint: dip the crusts of toast into the egg yolk…yummy.)

(Why sprouted grain toast, not “whole wheat” toast? Read the article Be Kind to Your Grains, and Your Grains Will Be Kind to You. Sprouted grain breads are easily found at Trader Joes or other health food stores. They are whole grain, but often not as dense as “whole wheat” bread.)

High Protein Waffles

This waffle recipe has fast become a favorite at our house. I love it because it is a healthy soaked whole grain, gluten free*, full of protein start to the day. My husband and children love it because you would never know that it is healthy, gluten free, or full of protein; it just tastes light and delicious.

Soft Boiled Eggs

A traditional preparation of breakfast eggs, still enjoyed daily in many parts of Europe, these eggs have the benefit of gentle cooking which does not destroy the delicate Omega3 fatty acids present in eggs. (Look for cage-free eggs, or better yet buy directly from a farm, to insure that your eggs come from healthy hens eating a variety of food and bugs.)

Equipment:

small-medium sized saucepan
refrigerated eggs
large boutoniere pin, hat pin, or other poking device
filtered water
slotted spoon

1. Fill saucepan with several inches water; enough to cover the eggs you will be cooking. Set on stove on high heat.

2. Using the large pin, poke one or two holes in the larger end of the egg; this is where the air sack is, and as the egg is boiled the pressure will be released through the hole, avoiding shell cracking.

3. When water is boiling, lower eggs into water with slotted spoon.

4. Set timer for 7 minutes. Allow water to return to boil.

5. At the end of 7 minutes, turn off heat, remove pan to sink. Turn on coldest water, and remove eggs from hot water with the slotted spoon. Hold each egg under the cold water for about 10 seconds. This is called “shocking the eggs”, and it serves to end the cooking of the egg as well as cause the white to release from the insides of the shell for easier spooning when you eat it.

6. If you have egg cups, place one egg in each. Etiquette for eating them (at least in our family) is to whack of the top 1/4 of the egg with a butter knife, and use a tiny spoon to scoop out the egg in the cap, and then in the shell itself. Fine salt and pepper are good additions. (Ever wonder what those tiny little salt and pepper shakers were for?)

7. The first few times you make these eggs, you will have to discern if 7 minutes is the right amount of time for the eggs to cook properly. Your altitude, size of eggs, and strength of stove all add slight variables to cooking time. The perfectly done soft-boiled egg will have a white that is completely cooked with no wet areas. The yolk will be wet, yet slightly thickened, as would the yolk of a egg fried over medium. If parts of the yolk have turned dry and grimy like a hard-boiled egg, it’s a little overdone. Adjust cooking timeย  be 30 second increments in either direction until you find the perfect recipe for your home.

Note: as soft boiled eggs by definition have a wet yolk, there is likely the same potential for salmonella poisoning as you would have with a over-medium fried egg.