Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Egg Experiments and Red Cabbage Dye

It's almost here!!! Easter is my second favorite holiday next to Christmas. Easter is a celebration of our risen Lord who conquered death for our sins by rising out of death on the third day. The egg has been comparable to the Trinity of God, there are 3 parts to the egg; the yolk, the whites, and the shell. All 3 are different parts of the egg but all 3 are one together to make up the egg. The same is with our God; God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In many cultures (not just Christianity), the egg symbolizes rebirth and new life and painting and decorating them have gone back centuries. Historically, in Christianity they would paint the egg a deep blood red to represent the blood shed by Jesus on the cross. The tradition was carried throughout the years and variations were made of the way we decorate and paint them. So now that you have been given a brief history of the "Easter Egg," lets move on to the egg dye experiments!!
I looked up a few "dye recipes" using what I happened to have on hand (and tend to prefer) which was food coloring. I also mixed up a few of my own and experimented with color intensity. All the dyes require some white vinegar which helps "bind" the color so that it will stick better to the egg.
I had seen posts all over Pinterest about "natural dyes" using different foods and spices and one in particular had me all over wanting to try it and that was this gorgeous shade of blue that came from red cabbage. So I began to look more into it and to my disappointment, there wasn't much detailed instruction or tips on it. So I am going to do my best to maybe help anyone else who wanted a little more instruction on creating the beautiful blues you will soon see.

Things you will need:
plastic cups
hard boiled eggs
*For the food coloring dyes*
Food coloring (I used Target's brand)
Gel food coloring (optional for purple and hot pink or teal shades)
white vinegar
*For the Cabbage dye*
Salt (I used sea salt, but I'm not sure if that makes any difference good or bad)
1 Head of red cabbage
white vinegar
a pot for boiling the cabbage
mesh strainer
baking soda (optional)

Ok so to begin, I found its best to use disposable plastic cups to hold the egg baths, clear is best so you can see the dye. Here I mixed the dyes using food coloring and I made sure to write down the colors on each cup because its easy to mix them up otherwise. I measured 3/4 water in each cup and 1 Tbs of white vinegar and mixed in the drops of food coloring. To get a bright saturation of color, use more drops (I recommend at least 16-18).
This one was a "Jade" recipe using 17 drops of green and 3 drops of blue. This one was in there for a total of 6 minutes.
This was a "Spearmint" recipe using 12 drops of green, 7 drops of yellow, 3 drops of blue. As you can see, its almost identical to the last one with maybe only a tiny bit more green shade. Also 6 minutes.
This was an aqua/turquoise recipe that I used some teal GEL food coloring I had on hand and did a good squeeze and added like 5 more drops of blue. This was soaking for 6 minutes.
This was a recipe I was experimenting with. I was trying to go for a more robin's egg blue and used 15 drops of blue and 3 drops of yellow and this was soaking for 6 minutes. The longer they soak, the darker/more saturated the color will be on the egg. (Can you tell I like blues?)
I realized I had an ombre going, which i LOVED! these are the same green recipes but each egg soaked for a different amount of time. the lighter shades were in for about 4 minutes down to 3 or 2 minutes.
As you can see I had 2 purples in there. Purple dye is SUPER tricky to work with. It tends to look almost blue, and will even develop blue water spots. I just used solid purple dye on these (like a good hard squeeze of it) which was a gel food coloring. the darker purple was in there for a good 10 minutes and needed constant mixing and turning. The lighter shade was about 5 minutes.
My full batch of food coloring eggs! (Btw, I let my daughter do a HOT PINK egg but its not pictured. That is also tricky to work with and tends to settle if not constantly stirred. the more saturated and bright you want it, use LOTS of PINK GEL food coloring, and mix the egg and let sit a good 6 minutes or more. keep checking it until its the shade you desire.)

Aren't they pretty? :)

OK-so now the cabbage dye experiment!! Let me first warn you, boiling the cabbage is RANK!! I mean like grandpa farts mixed with baby diapers rank! So make sure you have the windows open to ventilate as much as possible, unless you enjoy that kind of smell lol. First up, when I looked up how to make the dye, when it came to the cabbage they said boil the whole head. They did not specify whether to chop it up or just throw in the whole head. I figured the dye would extract better if it was chopped up. So make sure you chop up the whole head into small chunks before throwing it in 2 quarts of water in the pot.

Bring to a boil and you can boil it from 30 minutes to an hour. I did 40 minutes. you will start to see the dye as you mix it occasionally and the water WILL reduce some but don't panic. After it has boiled, pour out the cabbage through a mesh strainer into a bowl. You will notice it has a purpleish violet almost fuchsia color. Add 4 TBS vinegar and 4 TBS salt and mix well.
This worried me at first, because I wanted BLUE eggs, not purple. So I researched a bit about turning the dye blue. They said according to the acidity of the food, you will have purple or blue dye and to turn it from purple to blue, all you need is a bit of baking soda. They said do add TINY amounts until you see it turn blue. I never took Chemistry in school because I never got a high enough grade from biology required to take it but I always was intrigued by it. Safe to say, I was VERY excited about all this lol. In fact, I was so excited I took a blurry picture when trying to catch the reaction of turning blue.
Can you see the blue in the foam? This was after adding just a pinch. I added pinch by pinch until the mixture turned completely blue. *TIP--before I changed the chemistry, I put aside a cup of the dye to experiment with. If you want the cornflower blue and best saturation, I suggest using the original dye without the added baking soda. You will see why in a minute.
This was after it turned pretty blue I was so excited!

Here you can see the difference from the original to the altered. Another interesting result, adding the baking soda created gas and caused the liquid to become more buoyant, causing the egg to float instead of sink like all the others did.
This was the result of the egg soaking in the BLUE mixture for ONE HOUR. as you can see, it hardly took to the dye. I read that to get best results its best to let soak overnight. So I did, and let me tell you, I was so disappointed!! It didn't change much from the picture above, and only changed a shade or two darker and after drying was very streaky.
This was the original cabbage dye and this was after only an Hour. It was saturating more and more evenly. I let this one soak for about 6 hours more and the result was beautiful!!
Isn't it gorgeous?? Something interesting I have learned is that as it completely dries, it seems to become more blue even though it looks more purple when you first take it out.
I tried soaking a few more, one overnight, one for about 4 hours, and another for about 9 hours.
The teal one was over night, the next deepest was 9 hours, the next lightest was the 6 hours and the lightest was 4.
The original cabbage dye (with no added baking soda) produced the BEST results. The longer the egg soaked, the more deeper the blue and saturation. And like I mentioned earlier, as the egg dries it turns more blue. So don't panic if they look purple after immediately removing them from the bath.
Since I fell so in love with these results, I wanted to have eggs I could keep forever so something you can do is soak a RAW egg and after it completely dries, blow out the egg ( I used this method ) and you can keep them forever! :)
I had SO MUCH fun doing these and I hope you do as well! Have you ever used any of these methods? I would love to hear your results in the comments below or any tips or tricks you may have. If you try this method please let me know how it turned out for you!
I hope you have a BLESSED Easter and remember what it's really about! Praise The Lord for His victory and His incredible sacrifice! God Bless! <3

**Extra tips**
-The dyes do tend to stain fingers and clothes so you may want to wear an apron to protect your clothing (I did) and/or gloves to protect your hands.
-If you want the blue hues from the cabbage dye, DO NOT ADD the baking soda, but if you would like to just see the experiment of it pour aside an extra cup and you can see it transform first hand. It would also be a fun experiment for kids to see as well.
-I would occasionally stir the eggs in the baths just to coat more evenly and make sure the egg is completely in the bath with no parts exposed, you can use a metal spoon to help it stay in if that's the case.
-You may want to protect table surfaces as well by putting an old towel or tablecloth down.