Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Special Easter eggs

This is a repost from last year. I just wanted to share the Easter eggs that were part of my childhood tradition.

When I lived in Amana, Iowa, Easter was always a special time. It was the community effort to dye Easter eggs as I was growing up, and this carried on in tradition from many years prior.

As I have mentioned before, I am from the Amana Colonies in Iowa and I have posted about this previously in November 2008. The Amana's had the woolen mills and furniture shops. These two combined businesses gave the ladies of Amana what they needed to dye Easter eggs. Vivid dye from the woolen mill's dye works were mixed with glue from the woodworking shop. The dye and glue were cooked in a double boiler until bubbly, poured into cups, and then allowed to cool to a rubber-like consistency. The hot hard-boiled eggs were rolled on the jellied dye and the results were a wonder. It is not known who or how this method came about, but the eggs are so brilliantly colored that they defy description.

Because the dye was toxic, it is no longer used except in demonstrations this time of year in the Amana Colonies in Iowa. The modern ladies found a new method for dying the eggs. As I understand it, the new recipe is a secret, shared only among the Colony women. So, therefore, I am not at liberty to say how I dyed these eggs, but I think you can see they are very bright and almost marble-like in appearance.

I have wonderful memories of my mother and grandmother dying these eggs. The boiled glue/dye mixture was always poured into coffee cups that had been chipped or had the handle broken off . It was very difficult to clean this type of dye, so every year the same color was put into the same cups. I wish I had pictures of my mother and grandmother making Easter eggs. It is very vivid in my memory, but my grandchildren will never know this. My way is much too modern, but my daughters remember well how I made them every year when they were children. The rabbit in the picture has no markings on the bottom, but I know it must be 80-90 years old. It was always special to me at Easter time.