ShadyGardens Blog

April 19, 2014

Easter Egg Dyes Made from Garden Vegetables and Kitchen Spices

Filed under: beets, cabbage, color, dye, Easter, eggs, homemade, natural, onion, skins, spices, vegetables — shadygardens @ 12:34 pm
Easter has always been an important day for my family. The true meaning of Easter is of course to remember the resurrection of our Lord. Many families miss church on Easter Sunday to get ready for that big family Easter egg hunt, but we never did. 

Many fond memories are in my heart as Easter approaches. I think of my dear late Mother even more on Easter, because she enjoyed it so much. Mama always made sure we had new Easter clothes to wear to church on Easter Sunday, even if she did not. She taught us the true meaning of Easter. And although the “Easter Bunny” did visit us each year leaving us lots of goodies in our Easter Basket, he left me my very first big Bible, reminding me that Jesus, not the Easter Bunny, is what Easter is all about. In our Easter basket every time, along with the candy, was a couple of dyed Easter eggs. 

When I got older, Mama let me help her color the Easter eggs. And when my children were old enough, she taught them. We’ve always used the store bought egg dying tablets or food coloring. But a few years ago I ran across the idea of using vegetables and spices from the kitchen instead. 

Now I adore anything homemade! Coloring eggs with vegetable scraps is fascinating to me. But when you think about it, it really makes sense. Take beets, for instance. They stain anything they come in contact with, from cutting boards to kitchen counters to fingers. But there are other vegetables that will work and some spices have concentrated color that makes a wonderful dye. 

The original color of the egg will alter the effect, in that darker eggs will yield a deeper or even a different color. Since our eggs now are several different colors because we have different breeds of chickens, I can’t wait to see what we end up with after they are dyed.
Here’s a list of foods and spices along with the color egg they will give you:
  • Beets make white eggs pink or brown eggs maroon
  • Red or Purple Onion Skins make lavender or red eggs
  • Yellow Onion Skins make white eggs orange or brown eggs rusty red
  • Purple Cabbage makes white eggs blue but brown eggs green
  • Spinach makes eggs green
  • Cumin makes eggs yellow
  • Turmeric makes yellow eggs
  • Paprika makes orange eggs
To make the dye, shred the vegetables and add 4 cups of the shredded vegetables to 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the temperature, cover, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until a deep color is achieved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before straining the liquid. 



With spices, add 2 tablespoons of the spice to 1 quart of water. It is not necessary to boil the spice and water mixture–simply heat through and allow to steep. Colored teas will also work. Just steep as you normally would for drinking. 

To help the eggs soak up the color, stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the dye before using. 



(Once, I got the bright idea to save myself a step and I boiled the eggs in with the vegetables. That didn’t work for 2 reasons: the white of the egg was dyed too but also the eggs were too hard, so don’t do that.)

A single dipping will not color your eggs much with this dye. The eggs will need to soak for awhile. I lay my eggs in a single layer in a glass casserole dish and pour the colored liquid over the eggs making sure they are submerged in the homemade dye. Refrigerate. Allow the eggs to stay in the liquid as long as it takes to achieve the color you want. Taking a few out at different stages will give you different shades of the same color.

After the eggs are dyed, drain and dry them well with a paper towel and rub them with a little vegetable oil so they will really shine.

April 1, 2014

April is National Gardening Month

Filed under: April, children, contaminants, fruit, gardening, month, produce, vegetables — shadygardens @ 1:35 pm
Since April is National Gardening Month, now is a good time to get others interested in gardening. Over the years, I have become increasingly concerned about what contaminants might be in the food I am feeding to my family. Most store bought produce and meat contains some kind of germs or pesticides. And genetically modified foods are very scary to me, since I do not fully understand what all they entail. It is very important to know where our food comes from. I try more and more to grow as much of our own food as possible and what I can’t grow, I try to purchase from another gardener in our area. Unfortunately, our year round farmer’s market sells produce from all over the world, so I can’t trust it for my dinner table. Our true farmer’s markets are seasonal, open only from late Spring to early Fall.

Locally grown food from last summer

It would be difficult to be entirely self-sufficient and feed our families only what we can grow and produce ourselves. It’s true that years ago, families did just that, only purchasing things like grain and sugar. But that was before the days of mothers working full time outside the home and before television, Facebook, and Netflix took over our lives. 





Still, we can grow much of what we eat ourselves, right in our own backyards. I don’t have to worry anymore about where my eggs come from and whether or not some hen was mistreated while producing them, since we have our own backyard flock. But I do worry about salmonella, e-coli, or pesticides hitch hiking into my home and onto our dinner plate via salad greens and fruits I buy at the grocery store. 

I try to do what I can to encourage others to grow their own produce. I’m not suggesting you plow up your whole yard and turn it into a garden. Start small. Purchase a few plants from your locally owned garden center. Most of these home nursery owners grow the plants themselves from cuttings or seeds. You can help them grow their home business and grow food for your family at the same time. 
Children love planting veggies
Get the whole family involved. It is important to teach our children how to grow their own vegetables and fruit. Gardening can be hard work, but it is very rewarding. When your child sees fruits and vegetables actually growing on the plant and learns where food comes from, he will be excited to eat things he wouldn’t normally try.

Although gardening can be hard work, some plants produce with little or no help from us. Plants like blueberries, plums, and blackberries don’t require much intervention from us once they are planted in the ground.

How often have you turned around at the grocery store to find your child eating unwashed grapes or strawberries? That always horrified me when my children were small, but when you grow your own fruits and vegetables at home, your children can pick and eat right off the plant.

March 8, 2010

Grow Your Own Food

Filed under: Berries, blueberry, food, garden, Grow, home, vegetables — shadygardens @ 2:45 pm
In recent years I have become increasingly concerned about what’s in the food I feed my children. Everywhere I turn, I am reading or hearing news of preservatives, pesticides, and various other unknown food additives. Additionally, how many times have we heard in the news of food recalls due to salmonella or e. coli contamination? Many! It’s very frightening.
I have tried purchasing more organic or kosher foods, but they are expensive. I do think it’s worth it, but sometimes it seems I just can’t afford those more costly choices. So what’s the solution?
Grow your own, of course.
One of the most important foods to grow at home I think is leafy greens. I remember numerous recalls on spinach due to salmonella contamination. Lettuce is difficult to grow here in Georgia, but we can grow other salad greens. At various times of the year, we’re growing cabbage, collards, kale, mustard, turnip greens, spinach, and swiss chard.
Berries are a special concern since they absorb whatever is sprayed on or around them. I worry that pesticides won’t completely wash off. And I do remember more than one recall on strawberries due to contamination. Strawberries are difficult to grow at home, although it is worth the trouble. Blueberries are easy to grow and have few if any pests. Really the only difficult thing about growing blueberries is keeping the birds from eating them before you do. For more information on growing blueberries, read Blueberry Growing Tips for a Georgia Garden.
Many vegetables can be grown in a small garden. Just a few squash plants can yield more squash than our family of four can eat. This year, we have a freezer, so extra food will not go to waste. A favorite of my children is the sugar snap pea. Pods can be picked right off the plant and eaten whole, making them a great snack for small children. Sugar peas, as my babies call them, can be planted in March here in Georgia. Look for the seeds at home improvement stores or even your local dollar store.
I did read that it’s unnecessary to pay more for organic citrus, since citrus requires no preservatives. That’s good news, since we don’t live in South Florida.

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