It’s Eastertime in Ukraine and you know what that means – it’s time for Ukrainian Easter Eggs! And don’t let quarantine get you down; we’ve got three fool-proof methods for people of all skillset to make your own at home – no equipment needed!
What You’ll Need
12 eggs (or as many as you want to make)
1 ½ litre aluminium can (a Ukrainian beer can works wonders here)
1 large candle (or several small ones)
2 large beets – for red dye
1 cup turmeric or curcuma powder – for yellow and green dye
1 (purple) cabbage – for blue dye
5 bags dark tea – for brown dye
8 (white) onions – for orange dye
2 cups of blueberries – for green dye
1 bottle of vinegar
1 pack of matches or a lighter
1 roll of paper towel
1 Plastic wrap (optional)
1 Spray bottle (optional)
Prep Your Stylus
The first thing you’ll need to do is make your stylus. To do this cut a large chunk of your aluminium can – roughly two-thirds in both diameter and height of the can. Then roll it into a funnel with a small hole at the end – it should be almost like a ballpoint pen.
In fact, Ukrainian Easter Eggs are called ‘pysanky’ in Ukrainian, after the word ‘pysaty’ (to write). To make the designs on the egg, you’ll end up “writing” your design with your stylus in wax before dyeing your egg the colours you want.
Prep Your Eggs
There are two ways to do this, depending on whether you plan to keep your egg as a souvenir or eat it afterwards.
First – wash your hands (always a good idea under quarantine!).
If you plan to keep your eggs, you’ll need to blow out the eggs. Poke small holes in the top and bottom of the egg and be sure to puncture the yolk. Then blow through one hole until it is empty. Wash and let dry.
If you plan to eat your eggs afterwards, you’ll need to hard boil them first. Remember – hard boiled eggs shouldn’t sit in room temperature for longer than two hours.
Before beginning, be sure to wipe your eggs down in vinegar to clean them.
Prep Your Dyes
Now it’s time to make your dyes or colouring. The simplest way to do this is to just buy a pack of food colouring at the market. You’ll likely find plenty of options at a Ukrainian market during Easter season.
If you want to go the pro route, you’ll need to spend some time making natural dyes.
For Yellow: Boil 2 heaping tablespoons of turmeric or curcuma powder, 4 cups of water, and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Stop boiling. Add egg(s) for a minimum of 20 minutes.
For Blue: Chop your (purple) cabbage. Boil 4 cups of water, 2 cups of chopped cabbage, and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Stop boiling. Add egg(s) for minimum of 15 minutes.
For Red: Wash 2 large beets. Boil them. Shred after boiling. Squeeze juice from shredded beets into a bowl. Add eggs. (Note: If there is not enough beet juice to cover the eggs, just add some of the water you used to boil them.)
For Brown: Boil 4-5 packages of dark tea, 4 cups of water, and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Stop boiling. Add egg(s) for a minimum of 20 minutes.
For Orange: Peel 8 (white) onions. Boil the peels in 4 cups of water, and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Stop boiling. Add egg(s) for a minimum of 30 minutes.
For Green: Boil 4 cups of water, 3 heaping tablespoons of turmeric powder, 2 cups of blueberries, and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Stop boiling. Add egg(s) for minimum 20 minutes.
Remember, the eggs should be fully submerged in the dye so that the colour adopts evenly.
For best results, leave your eggs in the natural dyes for longer – hours, or even days. The longer the time, the brighter the colour.
Quarantine Eggs for Pros
As natural dyes are not as vibrant as artificial dyes, you should not mix colours when using natural dyes.
To add the design you wish, you’ll need to add wax to the areas of the egg you wish to remain white.
1.To do this, light a candle and drip the wax into the stylus you forged from the aluminium can. Draw (“write”) along the areas of the egg you wish to remain white. Let wax dry.
Now add the egg(s) to the dye. Let sit. The longer, the brighter!
Remove and dry eggs.
To remove the wax, either put in the oven and rotate as the wax melts or hold above candle and soak up melting wax by dabbing with a napkin.
Voila! You have a homemade, naturally-dyed, genuine Ukrainian Easter Egg!
Quarantine Eggs for Intermediates
No time, energy, or interest in making your own natural dyes? Just buy some pre-packaged dyes!
Prepare the dyes and add to separate bowls.
1.Before adding your eggs to the dyes, you’ll want to lightly draw your design on your egg in pencil.
You’ll need to plan ahead and determine which colours you want on which part of the egg. You will apply wax to “save” that colour before adding dye.
For example, if you want any part of your egg to remain white, you’ll need to apply wax before you begin.
2. To do this, light a candle and drip the wax into the stylus you forged from the aluminium can. Draw (“write”) along the areas of the egg you wish to remain white.
Important! You must start from the lightest colours and move up to the darker colours. So, next up is yellow.
3. After you’ve covered the areas of the egg you wish to remain white, put your egg in the yellow dye. Let sit. The longer the brighter. When ready, remove and dry the egg.
Now add wax to the areas of the egg you wish to remain yellow. Then submerge in orange dye.
Repeat in the following order: Yellow-Orange-Green-Blue-Red-Brown-Purple-Black.
Important! It’s best to only use a few colours on an egg. For best results, use contrasting colours. Red and black looks nicer than brown and black.
To remove the wax, either put in oven and rotate as the wax melts or hold above candle and soak up melting wax by dabbing with a napkin.
Look at you, Mr. or Mrs. Ukrainian! You now have yourself a fine, homemade, genuine Ukrainian Easter Egg!
Quarantine Eggs for Beginners
Still too much work?
This method is for the truly lazy. It’s not authentically Ukrainian, but you’ll get points for trying. And the eggs turn out beautiful!
1. Lay down a square of plastic wrap and place two paper towels (that’s four in the mini-Ukrainian pieces) on top.
2. Fill up spray bottle with two-thirds water and one-third vinegar. Spray paper towel until they are noticeably damp, but not dripping wet.
3. Drip food colouring onto the paper towel in interesting designs. Use as many colours as you like but try not to have too many near the centre, as it will muddle your design.
4. Place egg in the centre of paper towel so that it is standing (not lying). Wrap egg in paper towel by bringing the four corners together and twisting until relatively tight. Fasten with an elastic band or tie, if you’d like.
5. Let your eggs sit. Remember – the longer, the brighter! Place in the fridge if you plan to wait longer than two hours.
Presto! You now have yourself a bona-fide, tie-dyed Ukrainian Easter Egg.
From everyone at What’s On Kyiv – Happy Easter everyone!