Egg-ceptional Ideas

From tips for making easy-peel hard-boiled eggs and decorating with natural food-based dyes to recipes and more, check out these egg-centric tips for Easter and beyond

Photo: AdobeStock/BillionPhotos

If you plan to make some hard-boiled eggs to decorate for Easter, it would be a good idea to purchase them now. The holiday is coming up a litter earlier this year on March 31, and very fresh eggs can be difficult to peel. So, to ensure easily peeled eggs, buy and refrigerate them a week to 10 days in advance of cooking if you can, suggests the American Egg Board (AEB). This brief “breather” allows the eggs time to take in air, which helps separate the membranes from the shell.

These little kitchen workhorses that are good for everything from breakfast to lunch or dinner are nutritious, too. Eggs are naturally gluten-free, a very good source of protein (6 grams) and riboflavin, vitamin B12, and phosphorus and selenium—all at only about 72 calories for one large egg. Plus, eggs contain all nine essential amino acids but no sugar or carbs. Enjoying an egg a day can fall within current cholesterol guidelines, according to AEB, especially if other low-cholesterol foods are eaten throughout the day.

Brown or White Eggs?

Ever wonder if it’s better to grab a carton of brown or white eggs? The white ones work better for decorating, of course, but the color of the eggshell or yolk has nothing to do with the egg’s nutritional value, quality, or flavor, according to the AEB. Hens with white feathers and white ear lobes lay white eggs; hens with red feathers and red ear lobes lay brown eggs.

Decorating Eggs

If you celebrate Easter, this symbol of spring is a highlight of holiday gatherings. Colorfully decorated eggs start with hard-boiling, so following are tips and tricks to make cooking and using eggs easier for the holiday as well as enjoying them anytime. If you plan to eat your decorated eggs, make sure to use only food-safe decorating materials and follow the storage tips.

Cooking Hard-Boiled Eggs

To hard boil eggs, try the AEB’s suggested method here. Although the cooking water must come to a full boil in this method, the pan is immediately removed from the heat so that the eggs cook gently in the hot water. This produces tender, not rubbery, eggs and minimizes cracking.

  1. Place eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling.
  2. Remove from burner. Cover pan. Let eggs stand in hot water about 12 minutes for large eggs (9 minutes for medium eggs; 15 minutes for extra large).
  3. Drain immediately and serve warm. Or, cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water, then refrigerate.

How long can you keep eggs?

Raw: When properly handled and stored, eggs rarely spoil. Dates on egg cartons ensure eggs aren’t kept on store shelves past a certain date but eggs can be safely eaten two to three weeks beyond the expiration date or sell-by date. However, if you keep them too long, they are likely to dry up. It’s best to store raw eggs in their cartons on an inside shelf in your fridge where temperature is more consistent than the door.

Hard-Boiled: Refrigerate hard-boiled eggs in their shells in their original carton to prevent odor absorption. In the shell, hard-boiled eggs can be refrigerated safely up to one week. Once peeled, eggs should be eaten that day.

Naturally Dyed Eggs

To naturally dye eggs, turn to ingredients in your kitchen—plus enjoy those hard-boiled eggs for days to come on their own, in egg salad, and more.

Try these tips from the American Egg Board to make colored eggs with these ingredients:

  • Pinkish red: fresh beets, cranberries, radishes, or frozen raspberries
  • Orange/yellow: yellow onion skins, ground turmeric, orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed, ground cumin
  • Pale green: spinach leaves
  • Green/gold: yellow Delicious apple peels
  • Blue: canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves
  • Beige to brown: strong brewed coffee, dill seeds, or chili powder
  • Grayish/light purple: purple or red grape juice or beet juice
  1. To make naturally dyed eggs, toss your choice of a handful—or two or three—of one of the ingredients listed into a saucepan. Use your own judgment about quantity. This is an art, not a science (see notes).
  2. Add about 1 cup of water per each handful of your chosen ingredient so that the water comes at least 1 inch above your dye materials.
  3. Bring mixture to boiling, reduce the heat, and simmer from 15 minutes up to 1 hour, until the color is the shade you want. Keep in mind that the eggs will dye a lighter shade. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Through cheesecloth or a fine sieve, strain the dye mixture into a small bowl that’s deep enough to completely cover the eggs you want to dye.
  5. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of dye liquid.
  6. With a spoon or wire egg holder, lower the eggs into the hot liquid. Let the eggs stand until they reach the desired color. With a slotted spoon or wire egg holder, remove the eggs to a rack or drainer. Allow the eggs to dry thoroughly.

Notes:
• A ratio example for the dye is 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons vinegar: You might add 3 tablespoons turmeric, 4 cups chopped beets or blueberries, or 3 cups shredded purple cabbage. As stated before, feel free to play around depending on how many eggs of a particular color you want and the intensity of that color.
• Naturally dyed eggs require longer soak time in the dye solution for the color to take hold. Soaking overnight will give the most saturated color. Do so in the refrigerator if you intend to eat the eggs.
• Refrigerate hard-boiled eggs that you intend to eat within two hours, and always follow tips for egg safety.

Dyeing Eggs with Food Coloring

If you have food coloring on hand, here is a quick and easy alternative to try:

  1. Boil water in a pot on the stove.
  2. For each color, pour ½ cup boiling water into a small bowl, and add 1 teaspoon vinegar and 20 drops of desired color.
  3. Dip hard-cooked eggs about 5 minutes or longer, depending on desired color. Remove to wire rack or paper towel to cool. After color dries it will not rub off.

• Interested in creating a marbled look to your colored eggs? Try using this rice technique.

Eve’s Guac Deviled Eggs

Photo: American Egg Board

Hungry for More?

Enjoy your hard-boiled eggs in egg salad, deviled eggs, or whip up other delicious eggy ideas and more with this roundup:

5 Deviled Egg Recipes with Flair
Make the most of your Easter eggs or whip up a batch of hard-boiled eggs for a different take on this ever-popular snack.

Spring Brunch Menu
Satisfy cravings for a fresh taste of spring and comfort fare in one menu from asparagus salad and an herb-packed egg bake to cheesy cauliflower casserole and sweet baked ham—not to mention tender, buttery scones.

Eggs Benedict, Mediterranean Style Recipe

The original brunch classic has been liberally tweaked with toasty Italian bread layered with roasted eggplant and zucchini and lapped with a creamy roasted red pepper sauce.

Pairing Ham and Wine
Savor the flavor of ham even more with a delicious wine partner. Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, coauthors of “What to Drink with What You Eat” share suggestions.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.