Colouring Easter eggs naturally using red and yellow onion peels is a tradition many families still follow.
It’s something I grew up with and am happy to pass on to my kids. Why? Because it’s really fun and brings the whole family together in a creative and meaningful activity.
Russian Easter Traditions
Every Easter I am taken back to my childhood in Russia where the holiday is steeped in century-old traditions and memories. The holiday so loved and revered by people that even Communism wasn’t able to erase it from the nation’s’ psyche.
It seems like the early childhood memories are the strongest and what I remember is my babushka starting to collect onion peels in a plastic shopping bag weeks before the arrival of Easter, so there would be enough to colour dozens of eggs.
How could we possibly eat them all? We didn’t! With the rise of the dawn on Easter Sunday we would start hearing little knocks on our front door and my granny with a big bowl of beautifully coloured eggs at the ready opening the door to hear cheerful choir of the neighbourhood children, “Christ is risen!” to which she would reply with no fail, “Risen Indeed!” and give them each an egg.
That went on for hours. That is one of the Easter traditions that carried on through centuries and was carefully preserved during the tough years when God was not welcome anywhere in the country.
I still don’t understand how it was possible but one thing I do know there was not one family that didn’t celebrate Easter in one way or another. Miracle.
Having moved away from Russia many years ago, I’ve lost many traditions but I was not about to lose the joy and anticipation of Easter by not colouring eggs with my own children!
We colour eggs each Easter to remind us of what Christ has done, paving the way to new life, new birth and new beginning.
What do I need to colour eggs with onions peels?
The design on the eggs I have here is so beautiful yet so simple to achieve and what is even better is completely natural, no chemicals involved! Here is what you will need:
- Onion peels(red or yellow) from about 10 onions
- White Eggs
- Any leaves you like e.g. rose leaves, parsley, dill, anything interesting you can find in your backyard!
- Salt -1 tsp.
How do I colour Easter Eggs naturally?
Take the onion peels and put them in a pot. The next step is quite simple but a teensy bit fiddly. Place a leaf of your choice on the egg and slide it inside a pantyhose, tie a thread on each side of the egg to prevent the leaf from sliding.
Repeat the process until all the eggs are “dressed” in pantyhose. I learned that very stiff leaves don’t work as well because they don’t “hug” the egg too tightly and produce an unclear print.
Fill your pot with water and boil the eggs for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the heat is not set on very high as you don’t want your eggs knocking around in the pot and cracking.
Cool the eggs, remove the panty hose and the leaves, wipe any leaf remnants with a cloth. The last step is to make them shiny! Simply rub each egg with a little bit of oil.
You can use the same method and achieve different colours if you add beetroot to the water instead of onions peels. The colours will range from pink to red depending on the length of time and beetroot concentration level. Or use red cabbage to get a pretty blue and purple!
Dying Easter Eggs with Food Colouring
For this simple activity you will need 2 things.
- Food safe colouring gels of as many colours as you can find
- Any type of vinegar you
Add a drop of food colouring gels and a tablespoon of vinegar per each cup of colour. Top up with boiling water. Drop a cooked egg and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Once you dye your Easter eggs, you might want to give your little ones food safe pencils and encourage them to go CRAZY!
Easter eggs bellow are a joint effort of my children, myself and our friend. The funnest thing I’ve done in a while!
I hope I inspired you to get creative in the kitchen this Easter season!
Don’t worry if you get carried away and colour too many eggs. You can make my Devilled Eggs with them!
This post was originally published in 04/2013. Updated and republished in 04/2020.
- Onion peels red or yellow from about 10 onions
- 10-12 White Eggs
- Any leaves you like e.g. rose leaves parsley, dill
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Pantyhose
- Take the onion peels and put them in a pot.
- Place a leaf of your choice on the egg and slide it inside a pantyhose, tie a thread on each side of the egg to prevent the leaf from sliding. Repeat the process until all the eggs are "dressed" in pantyhose. (Thick and stiff leaves don't work as well as they don't cling to the egg enough to produce a clear print.)
- Fill your pot with water and boil the eggs for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the heat is not set on very high as you don't want your eggs knocking around in the pot and cracking.
- Cool the eggs, remove the panty hose and the leaves, wipe any leaf remnants with a cloth.
- Rub each egg with a little bit of oil for an attractive shiny finish.
- beetroot for pink and red
- red cabbage for blue and purple