Photos by Ma'ayan Rosenzweig
by Kendra Vizcaino, Epicurious.com
Spring is a time of joy and renewal, but along with celebrating the new comes cleaning out the old. This year, when you purge your pantry and weed through your spice rack, hold onto those out-of-date seasonings. In a few easy steps, you can use ground spices, whole seeds, and dried herbs to create beautiful and unique Easter eggs. So ditch the dyes and read on to learn three simple decorating techniques-painting, stenciling, and appliqué-plus how to display your designs.
Related: How to Host an Easter Egg Hunt
There are two ways to prepare eggs for decorating: hard-boiling and hollowing. Both work, but hollowed-out eggs last much longer. A hollowed-out egg will keep indefinitely, while hard-boiled eggs will keep only a day or two if left at room temperature.
To hollow out the egg, use a pushpin to pierce a hole in both the top and bottom, then use the tip of the pin to widen both openings to about a 1/8-inch diameter. Place a straw over one hole and gently blow out the yolk and white. The shell should be completely empty when you're done. You can also skip the straw and blow directly into the egg, but make sure to use pasteurized eggs, as some of the raw egg may come in contact with the opening.
Next, thread your hollowed-out eggs on a length of kitchen string so that the eggs can be evenly painted and dried. Cut a 10- to 12-inch length of kitchen string and tightly wrap Scotch tape around the center 4 inches, as well as the last 4 inches at one end of the string. Guide the tape-wrapped end of the string through one opening in the egg, and back out through the other. Center the egg on the tape at the middle of the string, so that the tape extends past both ends of the egg. Repeat these steps with as many eggs as you would like to decorate.
Now that your eggs are cleaned and prepped, you're ready to embellish them, using either the painting or stenciling techniques that follow.
Ground spices are wonderful for dyeing Easter eggs because they are very easy to work with and they come in such a wide range of vibrant colors. Good spices to try include turmeric, ginger, sweet or smoked paprika, pumpkin pie spice, Sazón Goya with annatto seed, and curry powder. Mix two parts water to one part of the ground spice of your choice-the consistency should be about the same as that of tempera paint-and use a small paintbrush to apply the mixture to the egg's surface.
Once the egg has an even coating of the mixture, tie the ends of string together on a hanger and hang them to dry for 20 to 40 minutes. Place paper towels underneath to catch any drips.
For deeper and richer color, let eggs dry completely then apply a second coat of "paint," and hang them up to dry again.
Related: Easter Baskets for Food Lovers
Seeds, spices, and dried herbs make unique and all-natural Easter egg decorations. Apply school glue, such as Elmer's, to the egg-directly from the bottle using the applicator tip or with a small paintbrush-then roll the egg in your choice of seeds and herbs. Experiment with different dried herbs, seeds, and whole spices, including sesame, poppy, basil, cumin, dill, salt, mustard, celery, dried lemon peel, and dried parsley.
To create interesting patterns, you can draw lightly on the shell with a pencil to make a guide for where to apply the glue. You can also use a stencil to trace more exact shapes and detailed designs onto the egg. Hold the taped section of string (on either side of the shell) to keep the egg steady or hold onto the egg itself, placing your fingers in the areas without glue.
You can either hang these eggs on a hanger to dry (as with the painted eggs) or place them back in their carton-or really anywhere they won't roll around-to dry.
How to Display
There are many ways to display your beautiful painted and seed-covered eggs. Let the spring season, and what you have easily available, be your guide in deciding how to showcase these nature-inspired crafts.
Show off your spiced specimens by filling a tall glass cylinder vase or hurricane-style candleholder with synthetic grass or straw, and arrange the eggs on top for a festive centerpiece.
A more traditional option is to lay the eggs in a basket. Line the basket with tissue paper, straw, or synthetic grass, or place plain, hard-boiled or hollowed-out eggs beneath the embellished ones to create the illusion of a full basket of decorated eggs. Or arrange eggs in a faux bird's nest, available at most crafts stores, which lends a very natural springtime look to the table.
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• One-Dish Wonders: Our Favorite Casserole Recipes
• Blue-Ribbon Chicken Recipes
Photos by Ma'ayan Rosenzweig