Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Save your onion peels!

Today I'll share with you how to get your eggs naturally beautiful-gorgeous beside organic brown eggs!
I grew up in a family that was anti any sort of chemical, whether it be a pesticide for spraying the lawn or artificial sweetener.  I was convinced the neighbors hated us as our philosophies on landscape maintenance clearly and absolutely differed (I will explain).  While the Johnsons and Blacks were mowing their lawns and trimming shrubbery with surgical precision, followed by an organized spraying of all sorts of "cides" to ward off uninvited pests and weeds, my parents watched and shook their heads in disapproval asking how anyone could allow a child to play on a bed of grass that had been sprayed to kill living creatures..."if it kills off plants and animals, how can they think it's good for humans?"  And we proudly kept a tall dandelion infested lawn which would occasionally blow a seed or two over to the neighbor's turf.  We knew this to be true because soon after, we would take notice of a few dandelions popping up across the street or next door and some very unhappy neighborhood faces with weed-wacker and pesticide can in hand...which is why I think they hated us.  But we were okay with that.  My mom would say things like, "instead of spraying those dandelions, why don't they use them in their salad?  That would be so much friendlier."

Dandelion salad anyone?

Which brings me to The Persian New Year (Norouz) which is always on the first day of Spring.  Each year with its arrival, we would create a table spread that hosted all of the items that symbolically represented health, wealth, happiness and good fortune for the New Year.  Eggs were one of the table items and in an effort to make them more exciting and aesthetically appealing, we all love to color them whether it be for Norouz, Easter or just for fun.  As we all know, there are a multitude of egg dying kits and artificial coloring agents out there, however as you probably guessed, my family was adamantly opposed to any synthetic dyes and would only resort to "natural" means (ie using onion peels as a coloring agent).

Every year, my mother would arrive at the local produce market, tear off a plastic bag and begin loading in heaps of abandoned onion peels.  Every now and then she would get carried away in the New Year's hustle and bustle and begin undressing the poor onions, leaving them flesh exposed.  Despite the strange glances from everyday shoppers (highly mortifying), we eventually made it to the check out counter which I considered to be Phase #2 of embarrassment.  Typically what would await us was a commotion as the check-out guy or girl would hold up our bag of onion peels as high as possible, and ask "what are these?"...to which my mother would nonchalantly reply "onion peels for the New Year" and then she'd always proceed to ask "how much per pound?" (as if the check-out person had a clue).  Typically we'd get a blank stare back and that's when the microphone bit would happen as the general manager would be summoned over the loud speaker to our register for a "price-check."  The manager, just as dumb-founded as the cashier would stare at the peels a bit as he/she rotated the bag in his/her hands several times and eventually give up and hand them to us for free.

With Easter just around the corner, I would like to share our egg coloring method which is simple, beautiful and chemical-free.  All you need are some eggs and onion peels.  But instead of undressing the poor onions at the local produce store, maybe you should just try saving the peels of the onions you make use of at home.  Trust me, it will save lots of embarrassment for you and the naked onion.

White eggs (however many you like)
Lots of onion peels (you can mix yellow and red or just do one type, let's say you need roughly the skin of one onion per egg)

Just add the onion peels and eggs to a pot and add water making sure the eggs are surrounded by peels and completely covered by water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 12-15 minutes.  Done!

For a deeper, richer color and if you have more time, you can either:

1. First boil the onion peels in water for 20-30 minutes, then add the eggs as above for another ~12 minutes.

Or alternatively...

2.  Cook as per instructions above, then leave the eggs in the onion water and place in fridge overnight.

PS- If you want a more consistent color throughout, occasionally stir the eggs while they are cooking.

And Voila!  You have gorgeous, all-natural colored eggs that you can enjoy visually and later eat comfortably knowing that if any "dye" leaked through, it's safe and healthy!     

The "Tie-Dyed" look- I made these with yellow and red peels together

More consistent in color- I used only red peels and stirred the eggs while they were simmering

I like to combine the natural brown and colored red and "tie-dyed" together in a bowl- looks so pretty


Anonymous said...

Love this story, Solmas! Carol Clearya

Anonymous said...

oops meant "Solmaz"!

Solmaz Amirnazmi said...

Thank you so much! So great to hear from you and happy you enjoyed it :-)

Lucy said...

Tried this yesterday with the kiddies and it worked! Who knew! So much nicer than dipping eggs in vinegar and food coloring...

Solmaz Amirnazmi said...

So glad to hear that Lucy!