Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blueberries, Turmeric, and Onion

Every year for Easter my mom and I dye Easter eggs, just like everyone else. What we do differently is dye our eggs the way our ancestors dyed Easter eggs - with onion skins! We prep the eggs with parsley leaves and nylon stockings, and then boil the eggs in water and onion skins. The result is a beautiful, rich, brown color and a cute parsley leaf pattern in a light yellow color.

These eggs turn out beautiful, and on Easter, you shine them up with a little bit of olive oil and they totally out-shine any box-dyed eggs. We're still keeping with tradition this year and our onion skin eggs are on the stove boiling as I type this. But this year we decided to do something a little bit different as well - using other natural dyes to see what kind of fun colors we could get. We tried these both with our parsley wrapped eggs as well as regular white eggs, to see what kind of effect we'd get.

First we decided to  try beets. With the amount of stains caused by the fabulous pink juice of a beet, you would totally think these would rock as far as natural dyes go. My aunt tried boiling eggs with beets last year and got a blah sort of gray color. So we thought to boil the eggs first, and then soak them in beet juice and vinegar. It looked like it would work, I mean, the juice stained the sink, why not the egg?

We even tried blending beets and adding some vinegar, then letting the eggs just sit in beet sludge. All that we got was a disappointing pink/brown sort of color that even wiped off if you rubbed it hard enough.

Eggs after the epic beet failure

 Our next attempt was boiling the eggs in blueberries with a little bit of vinegar. We let these simmer in the hot water for quite some time, getting started on the next batch.

Batch 3 was something we'd read about and knew had to give us some positive results - turmeric. With its radiant yellow color, we knew the eggs would dye at least a little bit. Like the blue berries, we let these sit for a while at a simmer long after the water had boiled, just to let the color set more.  

Our stove top with everything brewing.

The result of the blueberry eggs were a bit surprising. I thought they'd keep a little bit of a blue or purple hue, but they really are gray. Despite the lack of color, I think they actually came out really neat, especially our few with the parsley flower on them!  The eggs that are ultra-speckled are the re-dyed beet fail eggs; turns out the effect was pretty neat!

Overall, it was a neat experiment. Not only did we get some cool looking colors, we got to try something new. The turmeric was successful, just as we'd expected, and the combination of the two colors together is pretty striking. Different, but fun.

All in all though, while it's fun to try new dyes (we may even attempt red cabbage tomorrow - it's supposed to make a cool blue color), we definitely have mastered what we are familiar with. The onion skin eggs are just off the stove and polished up. What a beautiful batch of eggs. There are even a few of the more successful gray blueberry eggs mixed in there! Now these  are Easter eggs!

It was interesting getting to use my new camera skills on these eggs too. It really seems like I spent a lot of time adjusting everything for pictures that really aren't all that hot. My faves are these last three, and even those aren't so fab. I didn't do any editing of these, mostly for the sake of time and the fact that unless I use Picasa, I really don't know how to edit colors on photoshop very well, and at the moment, I don't quite have the patience for it. I also realized my white balance settings were off in the first half of my shots (plus it was more screwy even after I figured it out as I was going between two rooms with two very different types of lighting). Anyway, they captured what craziness went on in our kitchen tonight, and I think that's all that really matters in the end. One of these days my shots will get better. Tomorrow will allow for more practice, and I'm hoping to be able to captures some egg-fight shots this weekend with the family and share another Armenian tradition with you all!

Happy Holy Week!