Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Eggs- Swiss Style!

My husbands ancestors came from Switzerland.  They joined the Mormon church, crossed the Atlantic and then the plains to Utah, and then headed south to settle in Santa Clara, Utah (St George area)  They didn't bring much with them, but they did bring their traditions- one of which was dyeing easter eggs with roots and leaves and blossoms.  When I married my husband, this quickly became my favorite tradition from his family.
This post is slightly selfish- I want to document the process so that I never forget how, and so my children will be able to pass it on as well.

Here is what you will need:
*Red Root
*Foliage (clover leaves, peach tree leaves, lilacs, dandilions, hedge, green onions, or just about any kind of vegetation)
*Uncooked Eggs
*Thread (spools of various colors- each person chooses a color so that their eggs can be identified)

1.  First and most important- find some red root.  My MIL calls it "Pig Weed" but I have also heard it called "Santa Clara Red Root"  For those of you not in southern Utah- check online and see if you can find a root that grows in your area that will dye red. (or you can use onion skins, or beets)

Here is a picture of the weed:


It is most commonly found in ditches along farm fields.


When digging it- you want to look for the orange root at the base of the foliage although that isn't the part you want


What you want is the dark, thick, and barky looking root that is deeper down

(we gathered a good grocery sacks worth)

2.  Once you have your root, remove the foliage, rinse off the dirt, and cut into 1-2" pieces.

3.  Put in a LARGE stock pot, and cover with water (about 1" above the roots)

4.  Bring the roots to a boil and simmer covered for 1 hour (to release the dye)

5.  While your roots are simmering, you can start the decorating- put all your gathered foliage on a large table


6.  Start adding the leaves and blossoms, securing them by wrapping the thread tightly around the egg- adding more foliage as desired (you will want to be generous with your wrapping- you don't want it coming undone while it boils)

When you are done wrapping the egg, just break off the string- if you were generous you won't need to worry about tying off the string- it won't come unraveled

Be super careful!!!  Remember- these are uncooked eggs!

7.  Cook your decorated eggs for 10-12 mins so that the eggs will be thoroughly cooked.  (cook 10-12 eggs each batch- you can use the same pot of roots for multiple batches- and leave the roots in the pot the entire time)

8.  When done, carefully remove the eggs and place in cold water to cool.

9.  When cool, very carefully start unraveling the thread. (we found it works great to set the egg in the grass and pull the thread - the egg will roll around in the grass- that way you won't accidently drop and break it)

10.  Wipe your egg clean and polish it with a paper towel that has a drop of oil on it- this will give it a beautiful shine!

The best part is unveiling the surprise design!  They are so pretty!!!  Here are several pictures (my wonderful SIL took pictures!) Picture Overload- I just couldn't decide- I liked them all!  No egg is ever the same as another!

The green in this is from dandelions I believe

Notice how each egg dyes differently- the red varies from one egg to the next

One of my favorites!!!

The blue comes from peach tree leaves!  So pretty!

The stripes were done with green onions
Love this one!

I found this picture online- the eggs were dyed with onion skins and beats- so if you can't get any red root then this is another option

If you want to preserve these beautiful eggs for display- just write on the carton "do not eat" and put in the back of your fridge for a year.  The insides will solidify and become dry (sometimes you can even hear the yolk rolling around like a rubber ball!  If they crack they don't stink- the insides will be too dry.

I hope you all have a very HAPPY EASTER!!!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tradition! The eggs turned out beautifully. I can't wait to try it with my kids :) Thanks for sharing!


Isreview said...

What a cool idea to do altogether as a family. I saw just yesterday a blog post about the onion method and about a tea method but those are meant to be eaten so its a little different.
cool post

Debbie said...

Those eggs are beautiful! I'm excited to try it this year too. I'm thinking we don't have red root here in California, (I've never seen it anyway) so I will probably try the onion skin and beet method. Thanks for a such a detailed description of how to do it. I really enjoyed reading it and loved the pictures. We are Mormon also, and what a great tradition to start and send down through the generations!

Logan and Sydney said...

Thanks for this post. I live in Santa Clara and married a Swiss descendant. I am so excited to try this and see if we can get some of these traditions going again:)

Lara said...

I tried it. I can't wait to try it again now that I have the hang of it.

Anisa said...

We tried this and it was a lot of fun. I posted it on my craft blog and linked back to you! Thanks for the awesome tutorial.

jaybeacham said...

This is a great blog about it. A lady just ask me today where she could get some madder root for her egg coloring.
A great job on this article.
Jay Beacham

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