Dadline: Egg-cellent traditions to dye for | Parenting


I love the fact that my teenage daughter still likes to color Easter eggs. That’s because I like to color Easter eggs.

Lucy and I break out the dyes, the cups, the vinegar and the bendable metal egg holders, which I can never seem to use properly, evidenced by how many eggs I drop and crack. We have kept the Easter egg tradition, even though my daughter is past the age of Easter Bunny visits, baskets and egg hunts.

But she gets the baskets and hunts for eggs, anyway, because, well, you’re never too old for chocolate bunnies. And because her mom and I are sentimental old saps. Coloring Easter eggs allows us to do something together and to cling to a little bit of our kid’s childhood, even though she has a learner’s permit and is barely two years away from going to college.

Besides, coloring eggs showcases fun ways to be creative. When I colored eggs as a kid, my family used the store-bought kits that came with colored tablets that looked like chewable vitamins. (No, I never tried one, although I am told that I once ate an entire bottle of Flintstones vitamins when I was 4 years old. Look, they tasted like candy. Apparently, I broke out in a terrible rash after downing the vitamins, but I was strong as Bam-Bam.)

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I never knew there were so many possible ways to color eggs. We use regular food coloring, paints and even crayons for hand-drawn designs (make sure the hard-boiled eggs are still warm, so that the crayon melts smoothly onto the shell). We have rolled eggs in pans of shaving cream tinted with dye, which gives the egg a swirled, marbled look and makes them smell like menthol.

One year, we made dyes from vegetables — carrots, beets and greens — which was only marginally successful, but it was a great way to use up the beets and greens I did not desire to eat. And, for old-time’s sake, we also buy the kits, which these days come with more options than just the tablets.

The reason for doing this, though, is just to have a family activity together. From year to year, I can’t remember what designs I put on eggs, but that doesn’t matter. It’s our family’s holiday tradition.

Come to think of it, we still keep other traditions that Lucy has outgrown, such as bringing our resident “Elf on the Shelf” — the tireless Edward E. Elf, who has made appearances in this space on previous occasions — every Christmas season. Ol’ Edward flits about the house, not just because he reminds the teen that Christmas is coming, but because her father likes seeing Edward, too.

Before our daughter was born, my wife and I hadn’t colored Easter eggs since we were kids ourselves. We maintained most of the Christmas traditions, but during some of those pre-child years we just set up a tiny artificial tree with few decorations.

Now, we’re up to our stockings in ornaments, lights, Easter eggs and other holiday decorations. We even have St. Patrick’s Day stuff. Mardi Gras, too.

I am not saying that the reason we had a kid was so that we could go nuts during holidays. At least, I don’t think that’s what I am saying. No, I am definitely not saying that. Unless maybe I am.

Celebrating holidays — whether it’s decorating a Christmas tree or coloring Easter eggs — is just a fun way to spend time together and make our own family traditions that Lucy will remember when she is older and adding her own contributions. That’s what I am saying.

Plus, an old guy like me gets to be a kid again, even if I never learned how to use those bendable egg-holders.

Place cooled, hard-boiled eggs in a bowl of vinegar for 20 minutes. This step is not essential, but it can make the dye adhere better to the eggs.

Fill a pie pan or baking dish with a layer of shaving cream. (You can also use whipped cream.)

Place drops of food coloring on the shaving cream. Mix and match color combinations if you want, and swirl the colors with a toothpick or skewer.

Roll dried egg through the shaving cream, completely covering the shell.

Place egg on a paper towel without wiping off the shaving cream. Let it dry for 20 minutes then gently dip the egg in water to clean away excess shaving cream.

After eggs have dried, lightly rub with a little vegetable oil to add sheen.

(Adapted from Good Housekeeping. Find recipe at

Combine 1 quart water and 2 Tbsp white vinegar in a medium pot.

Bring to a boil and add dye ingredients for the egg color of your choice (see options below). Lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Let cool. Strain the dye to remove any food fragments.

Add the eggs to the strained dye and let soak for at least 30 minutes. When it reaches the desired color, remove the egg with tongs and pat it dry with paper towels.

Add 4 cups chopped beets and follow the instructions above.

Add 4 cups yellow onion skins and follow the instructions above. For a brighter orange, let the eggs sit in the dye overnight.

Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add 4 Tbsp paprika and white vinegar and mix until combined. Pour the mixture into a jar and let cool to room temperature.

Add 3 Tbsp turmeric and follow the instructions above.

Add 3 cups chopped red or purple cabbage and follow the instructions below. For a brighter blue, let the eggs sit in the dye overnight.

Add 4 cups blueberries and follow the instructions above.

Add skins from 6 red onions. Add in 2 cups of water and 3 Tbsp of white vinegar to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and strain the liquid into your jars.

Add spinach leaves to a saucepan and pour in 2 cups cold water and 4 Tbsp white vinegar. Follow the steps listed above.

Pour about a cup of red wine into a jar. Add an egg and let soak until you are happy with the color.

Boil water in a tea kettle. Pour water into a jar with 3 black tea bags and let steep for 30 minutes. Let the water cool at room temperature. Add an egg.


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