Eggs dyed with onion skinsYou have to admit that the depiction of the Easter Bunny carrying eggs in a basket is quite odd. I’d be willing to bet, however, that you don’t care that its weird, as long as he leaves you some eggs – filled with candy.

Who thought this up?

This traditional Easter legend is thought to have come to the United States via early German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. They already had an Easter bunny (called Oschter Haws) who visited them in Germany, so it stands to reason that just because they moved, he would still find them in Pennsylvania. (Doesn’t Santa still find you if you move?)  Oschter Haws a.k.a. Easter Bunny “the 1st” was indeed an egg laying hare, who layed colored eggs.  However, he didn’t carry them in a basket, he layed them at your house! Oh my!  That’s why there’s an Easter basket, so that Oschter Haws has somewhere to lay the eggs that you will get when you wake up Easter morning.

And so it goes.

Well, the neighborhood kids of these early German immigrants wanted the Easter Bunny to visit them too, and the rest is history.  Through the 300 or so years between then and now, the tradition morphed into the Bunny carrying the eggs in a basket (rather than laying them on site) and the eggs miraculously turn into plastic eggs filled with candy – particularly chocolate.  A kid, I’m sure, helped to mold this tradition.

Well, a coinciding activity is to color eggs, probably to supplement the large demand.  After all, how many eggs can you expect one rabbit to lay?  In the grocery store you can buy various dyes to do this, but in my family we have a tradition of coloring eggs with a naturally found item – onion skins!  You need to start saving the dry papery outsides of onions way before Easter to have enough.  Skins from yelllow onions are most common, but skins from purple onions are better.  I use a combination of whatever I’ve used to cook with.

BoilHere are two ways to dye eggs with onion skins:

  1. Boil the onion skins in water by themselves and let cool.  Boil the eggs by themselves.  Then let the cooked eggs sit in the cooled onionskin infused liquid until they are dyed. This lets you control both the cooking of the egg and the length of time in the dye as more time = darker color. Let the eggs dry and then either rub with a little olive oil or with waxed paper.  This makes them shiny.
  2. Alternatively, you can just boil the eggs and the onion skins together.  This works too and usually makes patterns on the eggs from the various pieces of onion skin. In this method, bring the pot with onion skins, water and eggs to a boil, then cover and let steep off of the heat.  Then let the eggs dry and rub with olive oil or waxed paper for shine.

Here is a link to a previous post that has a fool proof boiled egg recipe.  For Easter eggs, increase the time to at least 9 minutes.

You should also try dying eggs with beet juice. They’re beautiful too, but don’t get the juice on your apron! – Happy Easter!



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