My favorite Easter activity is coloring eggs. My father’s side of the family is Latvian, and every year I make traditional Latvian Easter eggs with my sister, great aunt, and grandmother. This year, I had a special kitchen buddy—Ernie. My sister’s 9-month-old Australian Shepherd is, like most dogs, very interested in any and all food prep, but Ernie seemed particularly fascinated by the Latvian Easter egg preparations.
Latvian Easter eggs are colored using dyes derived from all-natural materials—we color ours usingonion skins. It’s a really popular Latvian Easter egg-coloring method. The onion skins give the eggs a really beautiful earthy, rusty-red color and dried spices, herbs, leaves and/or flowers, wrapped or pressed around the egg and covered and held in place by the onion skins before boiling, can result in really interesting shapes and patterns. You can also scratch the eggs after dying to create intricate designs.
What you’ll need:
Nylon Stocking, Cheesecloth or, in a pinch, paper towels
Rubber bands (if using cheesecloth or paper towels)
Sharp tool for etching
Leaves, flowers, or other natural materials to create extra patterns on the egg
Vegetable oil or butter
First, collect a good amount of yellow onion skins. We bought a whole bag from the local grocery store, but some stores actually sell bags of just the skins.
If you’d like to experiment with creating patterns using leaves and flowers on the egg, wrap them around the eggs first. (My sister and I dripped a little hot wax onto the egg to help keep the flowers and leaves in place before wrapping with the onion skins.)
Next, wrap the entire egg in onion skins (you can wet them first to make it easier to wrap them around each egg), then wrap each egg tightly with cheese cloth or paper towel and wrap each with a few rubber bands to keep everything in place while boiling. You can also use nylon stockings to create little bags for each covered egg. Simply cut pieces of the stocking big enough to cover each egg, place the egg in the stocking, pull the fabric tight around the egg to keep the onion in place and tie the stocking off at both ends.
Place the eggs in a pot, add cold water and a little vinegar, and bring to a boil. Cook the eggs for 10-15 minutes. You’ll notice that the water will turn a red/orange color as the dye from the onion skins is extracted.
When the eggs are done, let them steep in the water for a few more minutes, then remove them from the water and let them cool. Use scissors to remove the rubber bands and the cheesecloth/paper towel/stocking and onion skins to reveal the color and patterns created by any plants. Peeling back the fabric and onions to reveal the color and patterns is the best part of the process. Use a sharp tool to scratch patterns into the egg if you like, then rub the eggs with vegetable oil or butter to give them a nice shine.
Our eggs ended up with a lighter color (we could have used more onion skinsto make them darker) and a few of the leaves and flowers we added made interesting designs. We started to add a few etchings to the eggs with the point of some small scissors as well.
Ernie approved. Happy Easter!