Every year I say that I’m going to try a different way of decorating our Easter eggs and every year we end up doing them this way – partly because it’s nice to develop rituals around traditional celebrations and partly because we always love how they turn out.
There are two ways that people tend to dye eggs here in Cyprus to naturally get that beautiful red colour – either with the skins of yellow/brown onions saved up over the course of a few weeks’ cooking, or by using madder roots (ριζάρι – rizari) that you can buy especially for this purpose in the fruit and veg section of every supermarket/fruiteria this time of year.
Either way, you make the dye bath using a bunch of these roots/a bag of saved onion skins with a few tablespoons of vinegar and a couple of tablespoons of salt… You bring them to the boil and then simmer them, covered, for about half an hour to an hour. You can strain the liquid before cooling it, or leave the onion skins in if you want your eggs to have a mottled effect.
Heavy, wide-bottomed stainless steel saucepans work well with this, unless you want your enamel ones dyed red. Once the liquid has cooled (and been strained), put the eggs into the dye bath in one layer (fully covered by the dye) and simmer them for at least 10 minutes, no longer than 20. If the desired colour is not achieved by this time, take the eggs off the heat and leave them sitting in the dye for a few hours (in the fridge if necessary).
Take them out of the pot with a slotted spoon and leave them to dry on cooling racks. Once dry, rub them all over with a little olive oil and let them shine!
Now, that’s the simple way to dye your eggs red! We like to do one extra step that I think is totally worth the effort… We go for a walk in the fields and pick daisies (margarites – μαργαρίτες), along with their leaves and some ferns/any other interesting leaves or flowers. You carefully wrap your uncooked eggs with the flowers/leaves and secure them using some cut-up old tights, tied with string/a rubber band… And then you follow the same steps outlined above but instead of solid red eggs, you get a red egg with a beautiful leaf/flower imprint on it.
Maybe this year we will try beetroot instead, or perhaps red cabbage for blue eggs, or ground turmeric for yellow… but I have a feeling we’ll be doing it this way again. The same as every year. But I am okay with that – You can’t get too bored with holiday rituals when you only do them once a year!
Happy dyeing everyone! And have a lovely Easter break xxx