Every Easter, I am taken back to my childhood in Russia. I remember my babushka [grandmother] starting to collect onion peels weeks before so there would be enough to colour dozens of eggs. Then, on Easter Sunday, little knocks on our front door would begin and my granny with a big bowl of beautifully coloured eggs would be at the ready, opening the door to hear the neighbourhood children chant, “Christ is risen!” To which she would reply, “Risen indeed!” and give them each an egg. That went on for hours. The design on the eggs I have here is so beautiful yet so simple to achieve. Even better, it’s completely natural.
- 8 white eggs, in shells (see Note)
- 1 tsp salt
- olive oil, to rub
- any leaves you like, such as rose, parsley or dill, to decorate (see Note)
- clean pantyhose
- sewing thread
- onion skins (red or brown) from about 10 onions
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 20 minutes
Place a leaf of your choice on 1 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.
Place onion skins in a large saucepan and top with the eggs, then cover with water. Bring to the boil over medium-low heat, then cook for 15-20 minutes or until hard-boiled (make sure the heat is not set on very high as you don’t want your eggs knocking around in the pan and cracking). Remove the eggs from the water and set aside to cool, then remove the pantyhose and the leaves, and wipe any leaf remnants off with a cloth.
To make the eggs shiny, rub each egg with a little bit of oil.
• You can make as many eggs as you like/will fit in the saucepan. The natural dye solution can be reused and gets stronger the longer onion skins stay in the water.
• Very stiff leaves don’t work as well because they don’t ‘hug’ the egg tightly and produce an unclear print.
Recipe from Vikalinka by Julia Frey, with photography by Julia Frey.
Read our interview with Julia and find more recipes from her blog here.