You know Easter is on its way, because you see the Pillsbury St. Patrick’s Day cookies at the grocery store relegated to the bottom shelf, replaced by cookies featuring bunnies and chicks.
This reminds you to schedule a time to color some Easter eggs to help mark the arrival of spring.
Traditions are many and varied.
Many people painstakingly dye and hide the eggs for the children in the family to find on Easter morning. Other families, fearing the gaseous effluence of an unfound hard-boiled egg, hide chocolate eggs for the kiddies. If you attend an Easter egg hunt organized by a local group or church, they will often use plastic eggs filled with tiny treats like the kind you can order a gross of from Oriental Trading Co. (These eggs are often “hidden” on an open expanse of lawn, and would likely be overrun with ants or other critters if real or chocolate eggs were used.)
In our family, we have always dyed eggs but not hidden them, preferring chocolate eggs for hiding instead. We don’t eat the dyed eggs, we sacrifice them for festivity’s sake, using them as a table decoration.
Each year I dutifully buy the Paas Easter egg coloring kit, and each year I’m pretty mad that they don’t look like the ones on the cover of Real Simple magazine. They come out pale, blotchy and sometimes downright ugly.
I’ve tried alternatives. I even watched a tutorial by that very magazine. Everyone touts the vinegar/water/food coloring method, albeit in different combinations, and the results are basically the same: blah.
Easter eggs — and Easter outfits — are traditionally pastel, but I want vibrant Easter eggs. Sure, I could spray a dozen with a can of Krylon Glitter Blast, but I want lots of different colors, and I don’t want to spend a lot of money.
One option is acrylics. You can get fairly small tubes of acrylic paint economically. You don’t have to reproduce a Rembrandt on there the way people do online — just paint it purple, and it will be beautiful. Of course, you can’t eat an egg with acrylic paint on it, so these are just decorations.
Nail polish is another way to go. You can literally paint the whole egg with the tiny brush, or you can pour some in a bowl of water and dip the eggs in. You can get solids or swirls this way. People like speckled eggs because many species of wild birds’ eggs are speckled. Since this is a type of camouflage evolution has helped the birds develop to escape the discerning eye of marauders, it seems a bit of an irony that we would paint speckles and swirls in bright colors, but then again, we don’t expect too many marauders in the dining room, so it’s probably OK.
If you want to be able to eat them, or if your kids are emotionally attached to the little copper wire dippers that come in the Easter egg coloring kits, you could try some better-quality dye for brighter colors.
If you’ve ever baked your child a birthday cake and dyed the frosting with food coloring, you know that it produces lovely yellows, pinks and baby blues. If you want red or navy blue, it ain’t gonna happen. For deep, rich colors, you need Wilton dyes. They’re more expensive, but you only need a little, and the beauty of the colors can’t be denied.
Some people think more is better with food coloring, but it isn’t always the case. Take a look at the experiment I performed in my kitchen. On the right, you see a white egg dyed with water, vinegar and 20 drops of ordinary food coloring. On the left, you’ll see an egg dyed with water, vinegar and a pea-sized dollop of Royal Blue Wilton dye. There are some blotches where I didn’t stir the gel enough to properly dissolve it, but you can see the color difference is vast.
So instead of the same old washed-out eggs decorated with tiny stickers, try something different this year, and make your Easter eggs a real conversation piece.