Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coloring Easter eggs

Coloring Easter eggs

Coloring Easter eggs naturally
As a kid, Easter meant dyed eggs and candy way before it meant anything religious, and with a new niece around, I've decided to revive the old tradition that my sister and I had of coloring eggs for Easter.

But with concerns about food coloring potentially causing hyperactivity in kids, even though the Food and Drug Administration considers it unlikely, I've browsed stores looking for natural egg dyeing kits to no avail.

My fascination with delicious but hand-staining beets, which are actually used as coloring in juices for instance, and my tendency to spill coffee every time I'm wearing white, reminded me that there are plenty of colorful, naturally-occurring substances that can dye an egg.

You can use a tablespoon or two of vinegar, plus beets for pink, red cabbage for blue, orange peel for yellow and grape juice for lavender to dye your eggs, according to Better Homes and Gardens.

And the longer you soak your eggs, which should be dyed after they're hard boiled, the brighter the colors will come out, according to What's Cooking America. But your color sources don't end there. Any natural product, like fruit, vegetables, juice, tea or flowers, that you have around could be used to dye your Easter eggs.
If brewing up natural colors in your kitchen sounds a bit too ambitious for you, Eco Kids makes an egg coloring kit that contains plant, fruit and vegetable extracts, but the kits are already sold out on the company's website.

The traditional egg coloring kits, like those made by PAAS, a company that's been making egg dyes since the late 1800s for example, contain tablets of food coloring like Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 5 for instance, which you drop into vinegar, lemon juice or water, depending on how vibrant you want the colors to be.

Either way, always stick to food-grade dyes, like the kind you get in egg coloring kits or the kind you make yourself from foods to color eggs that you plan to eat.

While people often break this golden rule, eggs left at room temperature for more than two hours should not be eaten, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

And since egg shells are porous, excessive handling of your eggs could make them more likely to absorb bacteria, health regulators say.

Plus, there's actually a health reason to use those little plastic eggs: if you're planning an Easter egg hunt, putting real eggs in areas where they might come in contact with animals, insects or lawn chemicals could make them inedible, health experts say. But a candy-filled plastic egg is more likely to motivate kids to hunt than a regular egg anyway.