Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Many Colours of Easter Eggs.

The Easter food theme would hardly be complete without some instructions in the art of making and decorating your own Easter Eggs, now would it?

In the days before little bottles of violently intense artificial food colouring, there were other artificial food colourings (some quite alarming-sounding) and even a few very natural ones.

From Jenny June’s American Cookery Book (1866), two recipes containing multiple ideas for colouring eggs.

Easter Eggs 1.
Immerse eggs in hot water a few minutes, inscribe names or dates etc., on the shell with the end of a tallow candle or with grease, then place them in a pan of hot water saturated with cochineal or other dye-woods; the parts over which the tallow has passed being impervious to the dye, the eggs come out presenting white inscriptions on colored grounds. Or boil the eggs hard and paint subjects on them with a camel’s hair brush, or etch them with a steel pen in India ink. Or dye the shells first, then scrape off the dye in any design desired.

Easter Eggs 2.
An egg boiled in the coat of an onion will turn to a beautiful brown color. To give a blue color, boil the eggs in powdered indigo with the addition of a tea-spoonful of dilute sulphuric acid. To give an egg a mottled appearance, with bright colors blended, and contrasted, obtain pieces of silk of the brightest colors, cut them into bits an inch long, half an inch wide, add a few chips of logwood and a little tumeric; let the egg be well inbedded in this so that the silk may form a thick layer round it, sew it up in very coarse brown paper and boil it half an hour or more.

And from Cookery for Working Men’s Wives (1890)

Colored eggs for Easter.
Eggs can be dyed a pretty colour with the juice of a beet root, or the peel of onions boiled in the water; or, if you have a patch of fancy print, bind it round the egg and boil it, and it will leave the impression. Wash the eggs clean before boiling. Easter eggs should be boiled for ten minutes.

If you want to make your own ‘eggs’ from blanc mange as in the recipe given yesterday for the nest of eggs, but found the instructions intimidating, here is another version with rather clearer instructions.

Easter Eggs.
Make a quart of blanc-mange in the usual way. Empty 12 egg shells through a small hole in one end and rinse well with cold water. Divide the blanc-mange into four parts. Leave one white; stir into another 2 beaten yolks; into a third chocolate; into the fourth cochineal coloring. Heat the yellow over the fire long enough to cook the egg. Fill the shells with
the various mixtures, three of each. Set upright in a pan of meal or flour to keep them steady, and leave until next day. Then fill a glass bowl more than three-fourths full with nice lemon jelly, broken into sparkling fragments. Break away the egg shells, bit by bit, from the blanc-mange. If the insides of the shells have been properly rinsed and left wet, there will be
no trouble about this. Pile the vari-colored "eggs" upon the bed of jelly, lay shred preserved orange peel, or very finely shred candied citron about them, and surprise the children with
them as an Easter day dessert.
Cookery Craft: As Practiced in 1894 by the Women of the South Church, St Johnsbury, Vt. (1894)

Quotation for the Day.

Good Idea: Finding Easter eggs on Easter Sunday.
Bad Idea: Finding Easter eggs at Thanksgiving.
(by Anon.)

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