Monday, April 08, 2013

Easter Egg Coloring and Backyard Egg Hunt 2013

This year I tried something new. My mom sent me an e-mail on how to color eggs using natural dyes from food, and I accepted the challenge. It wasn't difficult to find the ingredients at the grocery store, more akin to a treasure hunt. What dyes well? An accumulation of several websites, my list went as follows:

  • red cabbage
  • blueberries
  • turmeric
  • instant coffee granules
  • paprika
  • spinach
  • and of course, two dozen natural white eggs from cage-free hens
The eggs I get usually are brown, thus it was important to remember to get white eggs for this process. There are two ways to dye eggs naturally. You could either boil the eggs with the food that you use to dye (i.e. plunk a raw egg in a pan with turmeric), or boil the food separately, conserve the liquid, and dip the eggs into the dyed mixture, with a splash of white vinegar. We opted to do the latter, because the kids wanted to be involved in the process. This way, I reasoned, they wouldn't miss dyeing the old way with artificial food dyes.

As much I tried to find a tiny head of red cabbage, I could find only a small one, which yielded a huge amount of leaves and thus the largest amount of dyed purple liquid. Initially excited about the quick way the color in the pan changed, I was disappointed to see the color did not apply to the egg. The egg was a soft, pale purple, but only if you compared it to a white egg. Here are the eggs taking their bath in the cooled dye mixtures, from back left to front - turmeric, paprika, blueberries (front and left), spinach (center), and the deep purple liquids in the cups in the back and all the way front and right are red cabbage. Ballerina oohed and aahed over the pretty purple color.

Here are all the eggs dyed and drying in the egg case:

As you can see, the colors are very subtle and not nearly as bright as the store-bought dyes. The house was fragrant, however. Builder was not happy with the smell of turmeric, even though yellow is his favorite color.

The fun began the day after, when we hid all the eggs in the backyard. We had a total of 17. Ballerina begged us to let her eat one the day before. Hardboiled egg is a healthy snack, so why not? Husband hid some eggs in plain sight for Explorer to find, trickier spots for Ballerina to find, and the hardest ones to find were reserved for Builder. Here's an Explorer egg:

Builder victorious in his find:

 Where could it be?

Putting the eggs back into the carton (after all, we're going to eat them):

Explorer is proud to do it all by herself.

Found one! Ballerina loved the egg hunt.

At nine, Builder enjoyed it as much as he did when he was Ballerina's age.

I found one, Daddy!

Putting back into the egg carton again.

Explorer so happy to be hunting.

I love her shirt - very Easter with the chicks and flowers.

I did it! Ballerina smiling.

Gosh I love the looks on their faces.

Hiding in plain sight.

Hiding eggs all over again. Ballerina helping Explorer.

This is my egg.

Tricky place, but I found it!

I see an egg. Can you see it?

Victory at last!

We all had so much fun. The kids had been sick, and thus we couldn't take them to the public egg hunts. However, this ended up being as enjoyable as any public egg hunt. The kids loved the idea of doing it again, and that the eggs were the same ones we had colored the day before. Next year I will buy an eco-friendly egg coloring kit, though. While interesting, the dyeing took way too much time that could have been spent with my family instead. The dud? Spinach. Maybe I boiled it for too long, but the eggs were not even remotely green. Ballerina asked, "Can we have the brightly colored eggs with the metal thingies to dip next year?" Sometimes I think she can read my mind. If anyone knows of a quality eco-friendly egg coloring kit, please share in the comments below!

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