You don’t have to really hard boil your Easter eggs

I’ve spent most of the last 15 years creating budget-friendly DIY projects, pinnable fun ideas, and holiday-themed crafts that have been on the covers of your favorite magazines and morning shows. I quickly learned that practice makes perfect – because few projects go smoothly or look camera-ready on the first try.

Although most people take a dozen eggs to dye at Easter, I’m used to filling my basket with around 10 dozen – and that’s just on my first trip. When I’m testing different dyeing techniques or experimenting with color palettes, dyeing a dozen eggs goes very quickly. Decorating so many eggs over the years has definitely taught me a trick or two, but this tip was born out of necessity and has become my favorite time-saver to reduce waste: you don’t have to really hard-boil your Easter eggs.

Hyperventilating over blown balls

When I opened up my cardboard-packed fridge while working on my first Easter story, I knew I had to find an easier method than boiling 120 eggs before coloring them. First, I tried blown eggs—a centuries-old technique for preserving decorated eggs that found an even larger audience as a hard-boiled alternative in the DIY world. But as many pysanky makers would agree, it’s really hard to blow out an egg! You need to pierce the shell at the top and poke a small hole in the bottom with a safety pin, then put your mouth on the top and literally blow the inside out of the bottom pinhole. There are a few hacks out there, but it’s impossible not to feel groggy or out of breath after a few strong hits. And I don’t like the idea from a salmonella perspective either.

Four cups of different colored dye, with one person's gloved hand pulling an egg from the blue dye.
Photo: Taryn Mohrman

Just color them raw

The fact is that raw eggs stain just as well as hard-boiled eggs. So now I’m skipping the prep work of cooking and cooling and instead dip raw eggs in the dye bath. The raw eggs have the same beautiful colors but none of the unsightly cracks that are often a by-product of cooking the eggs. This also gives me the freedom to cook a number of dishes using the dyed eggs rather than wasting them. We’re not big fans of hard boiled eggs at my house, but we do have frittata or french toast any day of the week.

This method helps me avoid food waste. Commercially produced raw eggs in the United States keep in the refrigerator for up to five weeks, while hard-boiled eggs only keep in the refrigerator for a week. If your family likes hard boiled eggs more than mine, just cook and decorate the eggs you know they’re going to eat.

If you’re dyeing, according to the FDA, both cooked and raw shell eggs can be left on the counter at up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for up to two hours (above that temperature, the guideline is one hour). Best practice is to keep them cold — and all sources we consulted recommend storing commercially produced US eggs in the refrigerator. For the same food safety reasons, your dye bath should be room temperature or cooler – depending on which kit you’re using to dye eggs, you may want to chill the bath before you begin. Wirecutter’s number one choice is the Dunk N’ Color: The No Mess Egg Coloring Kit.

Dunk N' Color: The No Mess Egg Coloring Kit

Dunk N’ Color: The No Mess Egg Coloring Kit

Easily dissolving tablets create a dye bath that gives eggs a rich, saturated color, and the wide oval cups make the whole process easier.

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But don’t raw eggs spoil?

Probably not. If kids can color a hard-boiled egg without cracking it, they can color a raw egg without cracking it. Take the same precautions as when cooking together: Remind little ones that eggs can crack under pressure or roll on flat surfaces. Then show them how to hold an egg in the cup of their hand or use a piece of paper towel to steady it. My three young children managed to dye two dozen raw eggs last year without any fiddling (although sibling relationships are what they are, some elbows were thrown at whose turn it was to check the dye bath). I honestly can’t recall a major egg mishap in the five years we’ve dyed raw eggs as a family. But if an egg accidentally falls and breaks, sprinkle some salt over it to make it easier to wipe up, then clean the surface with hot, soapy water. You might also want to let any family and friends you visit know that the eggs aren’t hard boiled before they take one and try to peel it.

A new way of displaying them

Instead of laying out the whole dyed eggs on my table or in an Easter basket (if you do, remember to follow FDA guidelines for proper handling), I turn the empty shells into glowing bud vases. When I’m ready to make an egg dish, I use a method similar to that used to make cascarones confetti eggs. I break off the top third of the clams, pour the insides into a bowl, and then wash the clams. You can even do the watering beforehand: the raw egg mixture will keep in the fridge for two to four days.

I place the trimmed shells in a ceramic egg cup or crate to hold them upright, and then I fill an empty shell halfway with water and add a freshly cut flower. And if your centerpiece creation doesn’t go to plan, you can always break the washed, calcium-rich peels into small pieces and sprinkle them over the soil of your potted Easter plants for a touch of compostable color. How’s that for eggs tra credit?

This article was edited by Annemarie Conte and Marguerite Preston.

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