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A Family Holiday Tradition
I miss the old-fashioned way my family dyed hard-boiled Easter eggs. Although I understand why some may prefer the cold-water method, I feel something is lost in that process. Perhaps two somethings: the excitement in smelling the traditional scent of vinegar steam and the memories of grandparents and family participating in an annual family ritual.
Smells of Easter: Vinegar
Some of our deepest emotion-memories are connected to the sense of smell. For me, there are specific aromas that are tied to Easter. The most important is the strong, astringent scent of vinegar. Why? Because our family's hard-boiled egg dyeing method required it. This was a kitchen chemistry lab and one of the few times that kids would use pure vinegar. It was the time of the year that a strong vinegar "stink" at Grandma Wilzbach’s kitchen table signaled something creative and good (and possibly related to an Easter basket full of candy) was brewing.
New-fangled egg dyeing processes do not remove creativity from the coloring of hard-boiled eggs. Kids are kids. Give them artistic freedom and will they turn each egg into a visual masterpiece.
The Egg Dyeing Gadget
The specialized tool that we saw only at Easter was definitely part of the magic. It was the egg holder-lifter-whatchamacallit thing. Obviously, it was not an expensive item to manufacture, for it was contained in every child’s egg-coloring kit. Of course, my family saved them from year to year so that every busy pair of hands could be engaged at once. That collection can be part of the heritage of family “stuff” and memories.
A Little Bit of Adult-Type Danger!
We baby boomers lived with danger regularly as children. There were no car seats, no seat belt laws, no lead aprons for dental X-rays. We were bombarded with radiation, exposed to lead paint in our homes, and had many fewer childhood immunizations. We called it life.
Thus, it was not considered inappropriate for us to engage in an annual egg dyeing ritual that included...
Believe it or not, most of us avoided scalding ourselves.
We had respect for what boiling water could do to us and do for our Easter eggs.
All of the above elements combined to create excitement for dyeing Easter eggs. Certainly, if eggs were being dyed, all the many other great things about the holiday would not be far behind.
DIY Easter Egg Dyeing Method
You Will Need
- Hard-boiled eggs
- White vinegar
- Food coloring
- Boiling water
- Teaspoon (the measure, not the cutlery)
- Liquid measuring cup (such as a Pyrex-brand measuring cup)
- Several small bowls or teacups
- Wire egg moving gadget
- Start with hard-boiled eggs with shells in good condition. This means the shells are not cracked and there is no cooked egg oozing out.
- Mix 1/2 cup of BOILING water, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, and 10 to 20 drops of food coloring in a teacup.
- Dip the hard-boiled eggs into the cup and let it sit for 5 minutes or longer. The longer an egg remains in the dye, the deeper the color will be. Refrigerate immediately after dyeing. (I actually let the eggs dry a bit in an empty cardboard egg carton on the tabletop while I dye the entire batch.)
Optional: Colored drops may be experimentally combined (another kids' kitchen chemistry lab or art lab) to produce wild and unusual colors. Or, a patient kid can hold the egg just halfway down in the cup to get half one color. Then flip the egg and repeat in a different cup.
This method of dying is simple, all things considered. It just requires a little foresight to obtain all the ingredients.
I found it to be a special adult and kid bonding activity.
© 2011 Maren Elizabeth Morgan
Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on November 11, 2012:
Sure - I have a need to share the "old ways" with the world...lol!
literatelibran from Williamsburg, Virginia on November 10, 2012:
I've never done it this way, but I think this year I will. Thanks for posting!
Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on April 25, 2011:
Thanks! It's a good tradition to keep.
rkhyclak from Ohio on April 22, 2011:
I haven't dyed eggs and years and at the ripe old age of 25, this is EXACTLY how we did it when I was little! Good times :)
Native Gardener from Topanga Canyon, California on April 22, 2011:
Yep, I loved the way we made Easter Eggs when we were kids, too. Gotta have that vinegar smell :-) Thanks for reminding me.