Thursday, March 12, 2009

Save Your Skins!

I recently subscribed to's Greek food site, primarily because it had a link to some Lenten recipes I thought might be helpful during this time of the year. And I suppose it has been somewhat helpful - even though I have yet to try any of those Greek Lenten recipes I saw.

But here's an interesting portion of their post from Clean Monday (which just showed up in my inbox today!?) I enjoyed the following article on using onion skins to make your red eggs for Pascha. Thinking perhaps others might find this informative, if not helpful, I share it below.

(As a member of the OCA, I admit that I giggled and rolled my eyes - just a little - when I read little turns of phrase like "Greek Orthodox Lent" and "Greek Orthodox Easter." Hello, folks - there are actually a few Orthodox people out there who are Orthodox, but who aren't Greek Orthodox!)

Use Onion Skins to Dye Red Easter Eggs
Monday March 2, 2009

Looking for a new tradition to add to your Spring celebration? Red eggs mark every Greek Easter meal, starting with the meal to break the fast after midnight Easter services. This year, Greek Orthodox Easter will be observed on April 19th, so I'll probably tell you about these again later on (we make them on Thursday of Holy Week), but for those who dye eggs earlier, give these a try! They're great fun for kids as well, who get a chance to use a natural dyeing process.

The skins used to make the dye are from yellow (Spanish) onions. Whenever I cook with these onions, I save the skins in a plastic bag and put them in the fridge... to use for dyeing the red eggs that are one of the most traditional elements of the Greek Easter celebration. It may be a bit surprising, but those drab looking onion skins (below) actually do produce those beautiful red eggs (above right).

Sure, there are lots of other dyes I could use, but this method, that dates back at least to the Middle Ages, delivers a fabulous, deep red color. Learn to dye red eggs with onion skins.
Red eggs are symbolic of the Easter holiday, but we make dozens, and people often ask what we do with them. Well, we cook with some, we eat some, and we play a game with some. Learn more about this Greek game with red eggs.


DebD said...

I did this last year and they turned out very pretty. I saved WAY too many skins than I needed. It was fun.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

So THAT'S the secret! I've been trying everything I knew for years, and still never could get that deep, radiant red the Greek women get. I've doubled and tripled the amounts of red dye and still get pink eggs. Not one Greek woman here divulged this secret, either, when I asked. Maybe they just assumed I knew enough to add the onion skins.

Thank you!

-C said...

Yes, until I read this I thought that the secret of the Greek women was the advice I got from one Greek woman... "The secret is e-letters: R-I-T.

We're gonna try this on Holy Saturday this year, too!

-C said...

Oops, I mean THREE letters.

Mimi said...

Our eggs I think are dyed by those three letters too - I just try to not contemplate it too much.

I've never done it with onion skins, I shall try this year.

DebD said...

IIRC, my eggs weren't so much red as a deep reddish brown. They were not the exact red that the ladies at church get.

From what I hear, you could also try red cabbage (which is really purple) and get a nice color from that too.