This year, we used natural dyes that were easy to make and gave such lovely spring colors. With a head of red cabbage, a handful of beets and a few heaps of turmeric, we were able to blend and create a lovely variety of colors.
There are so many natural elements that can be used to create these colors, such as onion skins, spinach, teas and blueberries. Here's what we used this year:
(also pictured here is the coffee we soon abandoned; it did color the eggs, but they turned out the same hue as the brown eggs already in the fridge!)
For blues - 1 chopped head of cabbage
For pinks - 4 large beets, diced
For yellows - 3 Tbs. turmeric powder
Each of the first three ingredients went into its own pot with 1 qt. of water, 2 Tbs. white vinegar and 2 Tbs. salt. Bring the pots to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. We then filtered the dyes so that only the liquid remained.
You can use these dyes cold or hot, which is appealing when working with little hands in the pots. When cold dipping, the longer the eggs soak, the deeper their color. We double dipped a few eggs, taking the yellows over to the blue pot to make green, blues into the pink to make purples, etc.
Another Easter tradition we love comes from the Sicilian side of my family. Using a thick dough similar to biscotti, we shape cookies, using a colored egg as part of the creation. The cookies are traditionally shaped as baskets, but we let our creativity come through for these annual masterpieces. This year, three generations of family gathered around our table to share in the tradition.
Grandma's Sicilian Easter Cookie Recipe
1 stick butter
1 c. sugar
3 beaten eggs
1 t. vanilla
4 c. flour
1 1/2 T. baking powder
1/4 c. warm milk
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients a little at a time, adding milk when the mixture becomes hard to stir (this dough is very thick). Let rest before shaping. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until golden. Baking time varies based on the shape and thickness of the cookie.
We used the cold dip method to dye raw eggs that were used in the cookie shapes (the eggs will cook as the cookie bakes in the oven).
cold dipped colors
When the cookies are cool, decorate them with colored icings.
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/3 stick of melted butter
1/4 c. warm milk
1 t. vanilla extract
splash of lemon juice
Mix the first five ingredients until smooth, then separate into different bowls for coloring.
a few finished cookies, some awaiting icing
We used the hot dye method to color the eggs the children will search for tomorrow morning, boiling the eggs directly in the pots of dye.
Using a white crayon, we drew designs on some of the eggs before dying, creating swirls and patterns in the color.
I'm excited for tomorrow morning, when the kids will seek out the hidden eggs, dig into their baskets, bite into their cookies, share meals with family and continue to carry on the traditions of family and festivity.