easter eggs dyed in onion skins, and some other romanian traditions
Updated: Mar 31
If you are Eastern European most surely your childhood included eggs dyed in onion skins. I know my childhood in Romania did. However, at the time I didn't appreciate them. All I wanted was glitzy brightly colored eggs with a bunch of stickers on them. Little did I know at that time that when I was older, I would follow my family's tradition and end up loving the eggs dyed in onion skins. These eggs in the picture above I made a couple of years back. Besides red onion skins, I added some blueberries in the boil hence the dark deep brown color. One major downside of living in US when it comes to making these eggs, is that one can barely find onion skins. All the onions here have only a top layer of skin which of course is so inconvenient. Hence me having to add the blueberries as well. If that's the case where you live, one thing you can do to be prepared for Easter is collecting all the onion skins from the onions you use throughout the year. As for me, I would for sure love the abundance of onion skins my dad has at his house in Romania.
Looking back through these pictures in archives made me miss Romania and my family. Easter is not the same for me in US. I miss the beautiful Romanian traditions, our family reunions and the amazing landscapes. Maybe I should schedule a trip again soon.
I want to share with you a piece of what childhood was for me. These pictures portray an enchanted area in Romania where the mountains are covered in magical fog, trees, sheep and flowers. This is where I see an Easter feast taking place and of course eggs dyed in onion skins would be at the center of it.
I took these pictures a couple of years back when my family and I went vacationing up in the Apuseni Mountains. I was fortunate enough to have kind locals from 'Stana lu' Vanu' let me take pictures of their beautiful sheep. That day I learned how cheese was made. I always cherish old traditions and it is my intent to keep them and pass them onto my son.
Another tradition that is very dear to my heart is the traditional Romanian costume. When I visited last, I had my sister wear one. These costumes are an example of years and years of mastered craftsmanship which is hard to find anymore. Back in the day, when my grandmother was a little girl, there were no TV's, iPads, iPhones, or anything of the kind. People would gather around the fire in the evenings and would sing, narrate stories, thread wool and sew. What I wouldn't give to be able to go back in time and participate in one of those gatherings.
But enough with the melancholies for now. Given all the requests I got today for a step by step demo for the eggs dyed in onion skins, I caved in and I photographed the whole process for you.
STEP 1 - you need about 10 white eggs (this is not an exact number, you can use as many as you can fit in the dyeing liquid); the eggs have to be at room temperature and cleaned with dish soap and water (this will help the dye stick to them better)
STEP 2 - you need the skins of at least 10 onions, either yellow or red, depending what end color you prefer (if you live in US, I found that shallots have more skins left on them than regular onions); if you don't have enough onion skins you can add some blueberries (like I did a few years back); remove the skins from the onions, place them in a saucepan, cover them with water, and then add 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of salt (the salt and vinegar make the color stick better); cover the saucepan with a lid and boil the onion skins for 40 minutes
STEP 3 - go outside in the garden and gather whatever plant leaves you have available; luckily Easter is late this year and I managed to find quite a lot of different types of green leaves (you want them as intricate as possible and preferably small; this would ensure a nice pattern)
STEP 4 - to wrap the eggs with the leaves, you will need either mesh gauze bandage or a pair of hosiery (I only had mesh gauze available today, but I prefer pieces of hosiery since hosiery keeps the leaf design tighter on the egg; for the eggs I made a few years back, I used hosiery); you need to cut your mesh gauze or hosiery into approximately 5x6 inch rectangles; place a leaf in each, then an egg, and then wrap the gauze or hosiery tightly around the egg
STEP 5 - place the dressed eggs in the onion skin liquid and simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes; turn the heat off and let the eggs stay in there for another hour (the more you leave them in the onion skin liquid the more of a darker, deeper color they get)
STEP 6 - remove the eggs from the dye and cut off the gauze or hosiery, then remove the leaves
STEP 7 - what we do in Romania is brush the eggs with a piece of smoked bacon to make them nice and shinny; luckily I had a small piece left in the fridge (I get this type of bacon at a local European store)
STEP 8 - take lots of pictures and enjoy a great Easter feast with friends and family
I also put three eggs in the onion skin liquid just like that, without any leaf design on, and I plan to leave them in it overnight. Curious how dark they get.
Hope you enjoyed my tutorial and hope you get around to making these. Your guests will be impressed.