We have all experienced rubbery and dry hard-cooked eggs with green rings around the yolks. I never liked hard boiled eggs as a kid and I was an adult before I discovered that they can be delightful when cooked properly. If you follow the guidelines below, you will never have an overcooked rubbery egg again! With food sensitivities on the rise and parents need to avoid using food colors, some people love the idea of using natural fruits and vegetables as the base for dying Easter eggs.
My brothers and I have many fun memories of Easter Sundays when we were children, running around the yard or in the house if it was raining looking for the eggs we had dyed, getting all dressed up in our new outfits and heading to church, then returning to have our Easter supper. I love my mother, but in her haste to get the eggs hidden and everything else ready, she always forgot how many eggs she had hidden. When we were little it wasn’t a problem because the eggs were in obvious spots. But as we got older, she had to get more creative. We never knew for sure if we had found them all. There were a few years when our dog would find an undiscovered egg a month or two later … a rather unpleasant moment, LOL.
If you have access to a farm, there are hens that lay beautiful naturally colored eggs. They can come in shades of tan, green, and blue. Filling a basket with those is even lovelier than dyed eggs and totally natural. If you can’t find those, decorating with a mix of white and brown eggs is also an option that I love. Add some brightly colored flowers and the simplicity of the eggs will shine.
Once Easter is over we have to figure out what to do with all those eggs! Of course you can simply peel and eat them, but I have two favorite and simple ways to use them, egg salad and deviled eggs.
Egg salad is simply a blend of mashed hard cooked eggs with a little mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and if you like a bit of crunch, some minced celery. Deviled eggs are similar, but it is only the yolks that are blended with a little mustard and mayonnaise and then placed back into the center of the whites.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually boil hard-boiled eggs. There are two problems with boiling eggs. First, they bang into each other and crack the shells and second, the whites get tough and rubbery and the yolks dry out. Egg whites solidify at 180°F and water boils at 212°F. Keeping the water just below the boil and letting the eggs finish cooking off the heat allows them to come to temperature without overcooking.
For safety reasons and to shrink the egg away from the shell making them easier to peel, it is important to chill the eggs as soon as they are done. Store the cooked eggs, unpeeled, in the refrigerator. Always keep them chilled until just before serving. And if you are outside, place the plate of eggs on top of a bed of ice to keep them as cool as possible.
For all kinds of options and information, there is a website dedicated just to deviled eggs! And if you are the kind of person who learns best by seeing things demonstrated, here is a video showing how to properly boil eggs. And here are some clever ways to peel hard-cooked eggs (copy/paste the links into a new browser window):
One Egg at a Time:
Multiple Eggs at Once:
One Egg, No Water:
Traditional deviled eggs are quite simple, but there are many variations if you want a change. I have listed some below, but if you want, get creative and come up with your own combinations. My grandmother always made her deviled eggs with softened butter, but mayonnaise is more common. I use a blend of half butter and half lite mayonnaise in mine with a little mustard, salt, and pepper. They are extra rich and creamy.
Whenever you are serving food, placing a garnish on the top will let your guests know what you have added. For example, if you mix chopped shrimp into the yolks, top the egg with a small bay shrimp. If you use dill, place a small sprig of dill on the top. If you are making several different styles, this helps everyone identify them.
Every grocery store at this time of the year has displays full of Easter egg coloring kits, but I thought it would be fun to experiment with dyes made with items from nature. The Artist was very enthusiastic because he has done similar studies in art school, utilizing the same materials that artists have used for centuries. Ours were a bit different, but just as fun! Check out the chart below and see how many colors you can create out of ordinary items.
Eggs dyed with natural dyes have a matte finish. If you want them to shine, rub each one with a little oil and wipe off the excess. When you do this, they almost look like they are made from marble and have a lovely sheen.
If you are looking for more unusual ways to color your eggs and having fun projects to do with your kids, check out this article by my friend Amanda Formaro: 7 Cool Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs!
I hope that the Easter Bunny brings lots of goodies to your homes. And when the meals and hunts are over, you can make these recipes and enjoy the eggs you made in a new way.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you hard-boil eggs, the yolks are often close to the shell. This makes the white on that side very thin and easy to tear. There is a trick to getting the yolks to stay in the center of the whites. The night before you plan on cooking the eggs, cut the lid off the egg carton and set the eggs on their sides on top of the cups in the bottom half of the carton (instead of on end like normal). The yolks will settle in the center and then if you carefully transfer them to the pan with water, most of them should be perfectly centered when cooked.
Eggs are naturally gluten-free, but some children are sensitive to food dyes. Be extra careful not to let them come in contact with artificially dyed eggshells or you can try using the natural dye combinations outlined below. If you are making egg salad sandwiches, use gluten-free bread.
- Place a single layer of large eggs in a large saucepan. Cover with enough cool tap water to cover by at least one inch and add 1 tsp salt. Bring to just below boiling over high heat. The water will be steaming and small bubbles will regularly break the surface.
- Remove pan from burner, cover the pan, and keep the eggs in the hot water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water, adding ice as needed to chill the cooked eggs. Store hard-cooked eggs in their shells in the refrigerator, and eat them within one week.
- For the easiest peeling, roll the eggs on the counter under the palm of your hand, cracking them all over. Place them back in the bowl of water and let sit for about 10 minutes. The water will work its way between the shell and egg, loosening it and making it easy to peel. If they are still stubborn, put them back under water and press with your palm, rolling them to crack the shells even more.
- 12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 4 tbsp butter at room temperature (or another 1/4 cup mayonnaise)
- 1 tsp prepared spicy brown mustard
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Paprika for garnish
- Using a very sharp knife, slice each egg in half lengthwise. Wipe or rinse the knife between each cut to keep it clean. The yolks will pop out easily with just a little pressing. Place them in a medium bowl. Place whites on a platter and set to the side.
- Mash yolks with mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip or use two spoons to fill the eggs. Pipe the filling into the holes of the egg whites, mounding it well above the edge of the egg.
- Sprinkle with paprika, cover, and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Variables and Additions:
- Mayonnaise and/or softened butter
- Prepared mustard (different types – Dijon, coarse, yellow, spicy brown, dry)
- Finely minced celery, bell peppers, onions, green onions, chives, or shallots
- Finely chopped olives (black or green) or sweet pickle relish
- Hot sauce, paprika, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce or prepared horseradish
- Finely minced cocktail (bay) shrimp or crab meat (canned is OK) with lemon juice
- Fresh herbs such as oregano, dill, parsley, or thyme
- Minced cooked bacon or Deviled Ham
- Black caviar
Natural Easter Egg Dyes
Rub the eggs with white vinegar to help the shell take up the dye. Try both fresh and frozen produce. Canned produce will produce much paler colors. Boiling the colors with vinegar will result in deeper colors. Some materials need to be boiled to impart their color (name followed by ‘boiled’ in the table). Some of the fruits, vegetables, and spices can be used cold. To use a cold material, cover the boiled eggs with water, add dyeing materials, a teaspoon or less of vinegar, and let the eggs remain in the refrigerator until the desired color is achieved. In most cases, the longer you leave Easter eggs in the dye, the more deeply colored they will become.
Small Quantity of Purple Grape Juice
Violet or Purple
Spinach Leaves (boiled)
Yellow Delicious Apple Peels (boiled)
Orange or Lemon Peels (boiled)
Brown or Beige
Yellow Onion Skins (boiled)
Lots of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Create a New Tradition Today!
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