Onion Skins, Nylon Stockings, and Eggs

by Kay Helbling

What do onion skins, nylon stockings and eggs have in common? Well, if you had read my article from yesterday (What Color are your Easter Eggs) you’d have the answer. I thought it only fair to share this beautiful technique for coloring eggs with you. The basic technique has been used in Europe since the 1800’s, but here’s how I like to do it. 

Eggs. As many as you’ll want to decorate. I’d recommend purchasing an assortment of white and colored, if available. The colored eggs add a unique beauty to the end result.
Onions. Again, choose a variety of colors, the more variety of skins you have to work with, the more varied will be the results. You will need as many onions as you have eggs. The larger, the better.
Nylon stockings: Knee socks work best. You’ll need at least 1 for every 4 eggs you decorate. If you use pantyhose, you’ll need to cut the panty and the foot areas off to create long tubes.

DECORATE YOUR EGGS: (Fantastic project for even your youngest children).
1. DO NOT BOIL the eggs ahead of time. These Easter Eggs are decorated as they boil.
2. Wash your eggs so they are sparkling white. Leave them in a bowl of water. Best to work with them wet.
3. Peel the outer skin off the onions, trying to keep the top and bottom of the skin in tack. You’ll find they conform around the shape of the egg beautifully. Be careful when handling the dry skins. They break easily and you’ll want large skins to work with.
4. Soak the skins in a large bowl of lukewarm water, along with your stockings/knee socks. 
5. Wring out one of the socks and tie a knot in one end.
6. Wrap the egg with your onion skin. If both the egg and skin are wet, they’re pretty easy to work with. If you don’t have a full onion skin to wrap around the egg, you can piece sections together. Just try to cover all areas of the egg.
7. Use a variety of skins with a variety of colored and white eggs. You’ll be amazed at the different colored and textured results you’ll achieve. You can even use both red and white skins on the same egg.
8. Settle the onion wrapped egg inside the nylon tube being careful to keep the skin around the egg.
9. Tie off the sock close to the egg, and you’re ready to send another egg down the tube.
10. Carefully lower the tube of eggs into a pan of boiling water. I always add some salt to the water, in case one of the eggs cracks. It helps a bit to stop the egg from leaking out.
11. Boil the eggs for 8-10 minutes. When done, carefully pour the hot water off. If you let them sit overnight in the refrigerator, you’ll find the color sets up richer and deeper. If you can’t wait, just let them sit in some icy water till they cool. 
12. Using a scissors, cut the knot and slide out your eggs. After removing the skins you’ll find an amazing array of browns, yellows, greens… (This is the part kids love!)
13. Shine up your eggs, using some vegetable oil and a paper towel. The oil helps seal the pores in the shell which keep them fresh longer.
14. For display, I’d suggest a nest of bay leaves and pussy willow branches.
15. For more color variety, some folks have suggested wrapping the eggs in spinach for green, or red cabbage leaves for a Robin’s Egg blue, instead of the onion skins. Although I’ve never tried it. You can also drop red cabbage leaves in the water with the onion skin wrapped eggs to add more color into your egg. 
16. HEALTH NOTE: When cracking the egg, you may find some of the color seeped into the white of the egg. Don’t worry, unlike some other egg coloring, it is perfectly edible and you won’t taste the onion at all. 
17. HEALTH NOTE: Eggs should always be kept refrigerated if they are going to be consumed. If you only want them for display, I’d suggest working with blown eggs.

So, now tell me. What color are your eggs?

Kay was an insurance adjuster and executive for 15 years, a small business owner and a teacher for 10. But, her most fulfilling work has been as a mother of her two boys. She is now looking forward to an empty nest with her best friend—her husband.

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