Naturally Colored Deviled Eggs
For many families, spring marks the time to gather together and observe special holidays and occasions.
Each year, my brothers and sisters and I flock to my mom and dad’s house where we enjoy a fun-filled Easter celebration with a giant egg hunt. One of my favorite parts of the day is our potluck lunch. Everyone brings a dish or two, so the menu is always a surprise!
A highlight of one year was when someone brought in a platter of deviled eggs they had tinted rainbow shades, using bottled food coloring. They were so pretty and hit with everyone, but I wondered if there was a way to duplicate the recipe in a more natural way, using items from my pantry and garden.
Once I got home, I enlisted my kids to help me experiment with the idea!
With a backyard full of chickens, gathering enough eggs is never a problem. The only downside is that hard boiled fresh eggs are notorious for being difficult to peel. To make this less frustrating, I employ the following tricks:
- Use eggs that are at least two weeks old – they shrink over time, increasing the space between membrane and shell, making them easier to peel once they’ve been boiled.
- Right before adding them to your pan, prick the fat end of each egg with a pin or thumbtack. Just a tiny prick is all you need; try not to push all the way through to the liquid inside or your egg white will leak out while boiling. This pin prick will further help the shell separate from the membrane.
- Place your eggs in a single layer in a saucepan, cover with cold water, then bring to a rapid boil. Just as the water starts to boil vigorously, cover the pan and remove from heat. Let it sit, undisturbed, for fifteen minutes, then ladle the eggs into an ice water bath for twenty minutes. The cold stops the cooking process so you don’t end up with rubbery or gray tinged eggs.
Now that your eggs are cooked, you’re ready to peel. My kids and their cousins love to peel eggs – even the few egg haters jump in. With kids helping, you don’t always get the prettiest outcome, though a friendly contest of “Who Can Peel the Smoothest Egg” helps!
Once the eggs are peeled, slice them in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the inside. Tuck the yolks in the refrigerator until needed, while the whites are being colored.
Below, I’ve listed the natural materials we’ve used to successfully color egg whites. We’ve also used them to tint icing for cookies and to make rainbow layered cakes. The key for baked goods is to use very small amounts and go for a pastel look, so no one flavor overwhelms.
To keep the dyes separate and easy to use, I pour some of each into little glass punch cups or custard dishes.
Drop each hollowed out egg white into a cup, one at a time, flipping around occasionally to check color saturation. Some eggs will only need a few minutes in the dye solution, others will need longer.
Pink is probably the easiest color to obtain. The juice from canned beets yields a quick and reliable result. We’ve also tried a strong hibiscus tea before, but those turned from pale pink to lavender after a few hours, which was a very pretty and pleasant surprise!
Yellow dye can be made from 2 to 3 teaspoons of powdered turmeric mixed with 1 cup boiling water. The smell and taste of turmeric is stronger than the other color options, so keep a light hand when using this one.
Beet juice + turmeric makes a brown looking liquid, but it produces a pretty shade of orange when it’s on the egg white. These two liquids tend to separate, so stir frequently while soaking.
A handful of frozen blueberries, boiled with one cup of water, will turn egg whites a purplish blue. You can also try blackberries and raspberries for different shade options.
Bottled pomegranate juice made yet another variation on the purple-blue shade that was quite pretty.
Green can be the most challenging, because the eggs require a longer soaking time to get visible results. We used carrots tops, simmered with just enough water to cover for about an hour. Once cooled, we soaked boiled eggs whites in the unstrained mixture overnight in the refrigerator. Another time, we use fresh spinach leaves, pureed with just enough water to make a dark green juice. This version also required an overnight soaking.
Once your egg whites are colored to satisfaction, lift them out of the dye with a fork and let them dry a short while on a sheet of wax paper, spaced apart so the colors won’t fade on each other. Return them to the refrigerator until ready to fill.
Everyone has their own favorite deviled egg filling; we keep it pretty simple in our family by mashing the yolks with a bit of mayonnaise and mustard. You can spoon the filling into the colored egg white shells or snip off the tip of a freezer bag and use it as a makeshift piping bag.
For the finishing touch, a sprinkle of paprika, parsley or dill are common choices.
For extra kid appeal, you can turn the deviled eggs into sailboats by adding triangles of sweet peppers or cheese, secured with a toothpick.
For extra color and springtime flair, decorate the eggs and platter with edible flowers such as pansies, violets, dianthus, roses, nasturtiums, snapdragons, and so forth.
If you enjoyed reading about making naturally colored deviled eggs, let’s keep in touch!
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