Growing up, I remember that we had two different methods for dying our Easter eggs: the way everyone else did it, with the bright pastel blue and pink dyes and stickers and wax crayons that came in the PAAS kits… and the way with the onions.
I remember waffling between preferring the pastels and the onions as I got older. These days, I prefer the look of the onion-dyed eggs to the pastels, especially since my lasting impression of the bright pastel dyes is “makes a horrid mess in the kitchen.” The onion-dyed eggs are a snap to do, and simple enough that kids who are old enough to be trusted handling raw eggs can help.
To start, you’ll need some onion skins.
I discovered that I saved way too many skins for what I needed; I could easily have doubled up some of the skins to get darker colours. In any event, this was a great excuse to make French onion soup. When peeling the onions, try to keep the skins in as large of pieces as possible.
I bought my eggs a week before I planned to dye them. Older eggs are easier to peel. Also (obviously) make sure you’re not buying eggs with the date stamped on them, or brown eggs. Plain old white eggs are needed for this.
Finally, you’ll need some rags or scraps of cloth large enough to wrap an egg in. I had some cotton cloth leftover from making curtains, but any fabric that isn’t super thin should work. You just need it to be strong enough to hold the skins against the eggshells.
When you’re ready to dye your eggs, wet both the eggs and the onion skins well. This will help the skins stick to the shell. Also, try to select large pieces that will wrap around the egg well. You’ll want to cover all of the shell. Make sure that the skins are touching the shell, since they won’t colour what they aren’t touching.
(Now, some people get fancy here and put little flowers or leaves between the eggshell and the onion skins. I’ve tried that and it worked, but I didn’t feel it was worth the hassle of keeping the flower stuck while trying to wrap the egg in the onion and the cloth. Your milage may vary, of course.)
Once you’ve wrapped the egg in the onion skins, bundle the cloth up around everything and tie it off with a rubber band.
After you’ve wrapped up all of your eggs, simply cook them using your favourite method for making hard-boiled eggs. I’ve been using the method from Simply Recipes and it works quite well.
Once the eggs are cooled, remove the rubber band, unwrap the cloth and slip off the onion skins, and admire the pattern on the egg!
I think this is one of the reasons why I like dying eggs this way: each egg is going to be a unique surprise.
Happy Easter! If you try this out, let me know how it worked for you.