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Think outside the box for Easter egg dyes

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Eggs dyed in red cabbage water turn a surprising aqua color. Marbling happens with the addition of butter. Courtesy photo / Inspired Home magazine2 / 3
You can dye Easter eggs using the natural pigments found in fruits, vegetables and spices. Courtesy photo / Inspired Home magazine3 / 3

FARGO — Americans have been decorating Easter eggs the same way since the electric light bulb was in its infancy. It was 1880 when a druggist in Newark, N.J., created a way to dye Easter eggs using little tablets combined with water and vinegar.

He named his creation "PAAS" after the Pennsylvania Dutch word for Easter (Passen). Now 138 years later, hundreds of millions of eggs have been decorated. This year alone more than 10 million PAAS Easter egg kits will be sold. Egg dyers can choose from classic to neon colors with everything from a high-gloss shine to a muted but groovy tie dye finishes. The Paas-iblities are nearly limitless.

However, in 2018 people want to think outside the (PAAS) box, using alternative methods of Easter egg dying which involve everyday items you might have on hand in your pantry. We, along with Terri Ferragut of Inspired Home magazine, tested out a few methods involving vegetables, spices and even a childhood favorite summer drink. Here are our findings some of which are pretty surprising.

Kool-Aid

In our first dye experiment, we used Kool-Aid packets to dye our Easter eggs. We simply took small packets of different flavored (and colored) Kool-Aid and mixed it with a ½ cup of warm water (no vinegar needed). We soaked the hard-boiled eggs for a few minutes. The result was an egg with a deep saturated hue. The dye gave the eggs a textured-pattern and a fruity smell. Pretty cool. While PAAS kits are not expensive (about $2 a box), the Kool-Aid eggs were even cheaper — only 20 cents per packet.

Jell-O

Who doesn't have at least one box of Jell-O sitting in the back of the cabinet? You don't need to throw it away, thought because it can be repurposed as Easter egg dye. Just pour whatever flavor Jell-O you have and mix it with 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Place the eggs in the bowl. The longer you leave them, the darker the color will be. A box of Jell-O is usually less than $1 so it's another affordable choice.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage surprisingly yields spectacular vivid aqua blue eggs. Farragut says to simmer about 4 cups of roughly chopped cabbage in a large saucepan with water for about 30 minutes. Remove the cabbage and stir in 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Let cool.

For solid-colored eggs, dip into the cabbage/vinegar water until you've reached the desired color. Farragut says to give the eggs a marbled look, cover your hands in two plastic bags and rub the bags over a block of butter. Then pick up an undyed egg and pass the egg from one hand to the other. Place the egg in the cabbage/vinegar water. The grease from the butter helps create a marbled (almost planet Earth-looking) egg. This method also works by using beets, which gives the eggs a deep pink color.

Onions

Ferragut found out onion skins yield different colored results depending upon whether you dye raw or hard-boiled eggs. First, start by putting the skins of 12 onions in a pot of water with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Simmer the mixture for 30 minutes. Take the onion skins out of the water. For orange-colored eggs, soak hard-boiled eggs in onion water for 30 minutes. To achieve a sienna brown color, boil raw eggs in the onion water for 30 minutes.

Turmeric

Turmeric, a spice native to India, gives foods an exotic flavor and eggs a pale or golden yellow color. Place 3 tablespoons of turmeric, 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 quart of water in a pot to boil. Add raw eggs and boil for 30 minutes to achieve a deep gold egg. If you want a pale yellow egg, hard boil the eggs alone before soaking in the turmeric solution for 30 minutes.

Coffee

Talk about natural. You can also dye Easter eggs with just one ingredient: black coffee. The blacker the coffee and the longer you boil the eggs in it, the deeper the brown color. Ferragut found raw eggs boiled for 30 minutes in black coffee yielded a rich, brown egg.

We have just scratched the surface in alternative Easter egg dyes. Experiment with berries, tea, chili powder and much more for an Egg-ceptional and colorful Easter.

Tracy Briggs

Tracy Briggs is a former TV anchor/radio host currently working as a features writer and video host for Forum Communications.

(701) 451-5632
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