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Avoid the Store; dye your Easter Eggs naturally – Croatian style

Naturally-dyed eggs for Easter 

By Kaja Korbar Olcott

With practically the whole planet spending Easter in lockdown, families across the world are finding ways to adjust to this new normal. If you’re like my family and you didn’t get a chance to buy colored dyes for your Easter eggs this year, don’t fret!

You likely have all the supplies you need in and around your house to create beautiful, naturally-dyed eggs. In fact, this is the way that older generations in Croatia used to dye their eggs back when artificial dyes were expensive and hard to come by. Plus, it’s a great way to teach kids about reusing and repurposing household items to reduce waste. 

All that you’ll need for this project is:

  • ~2 cups of onion peels (both red and yellow work)
  • 2-4 slices of beets (optional)
  • Eggs for dyeing – brown or white are fine
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Old nylon stockings
  • Scissors
  • Water for boiling
  • Pot
  • A small scrap of pancetta, bacon or some other greasy cured meat. Alternatively use vegetable or coconut oil. 

First, you’ll need to head out to the yard and pick some wildflowers, leaves and stems. Get creative! There are all sorts of beautiful shapes and patterns you can choose from. You can find clovers, daisies, vines – anything with an interesting outline that would fit on the side of an egg would work here!

Gather your foliage

Next, take your stockings and cut them up into 4-5 inch (10-13 cm) segments. You’ll need as many of these as the eggs that you plan to dye. If a segment has both ends open, tie one into a knot.

Cut the stockings & knot ends

In the meantime, put your onion skins and beet slices into a pot and fill with just enough water to cover the scraps. ring to a boil and then add the vinegar. Once the water takes on a deep red color, turn off the heat and let the water cool. Remove the scraps.

Boil scraps with vinegar, remove, and cool

Now is when you get to be creative! Select flowers and leaves from your collection and place them on an egg. You can typically get 2-3 items on there easily. While holding the plants in place with one hand, wrap the egg in a stocking. Make sure your foliage is in the place you want it and tighten the stocking while tying the other end into a knot. Repeat with all your eggs.

Arrange flowers & wrap in stocking

When all your eggs have been adorned and wrapped, add them into the cooled, dyed water and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Rotate gently if needed. You can take them out earlier if you want a paler color, or leave them in even longer with the heat off (to prevent the shells from cracking) to get an even deeper effect.

Wrapped and ready to dye

Simmer until desired shade is reached

When ready, remove the eggs and let them dry in a carton. When ready, cut off the stocking and remove the flowers and leaves to reveal the imprints left behind.

Dry, cut nylons, and remove plants

Take the pancetta slice and rub on the eggs to give them a nice shine.

Rub with pancetta for a natural shine

Enjoy!

Photos provided by Jerko Steiner



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