Monday, April 24, 2006

Greek Red Easter Eggs

Last night, the actual Greek Easter, we had a small dinner party with some friends. The week before in Geneva my mother-in-law, Rita and I made a batch of traditional deep red Greek Easter eggs and last night we used them in our own little egg smashing competition. The process of dying them is the same as any standard pastel Easter egg coloring technique, but in Greece they do a particularly neat decoration of leaf imprints on the red background. Here's how we did it:

We set the eggs in a pot of cold water, put that over a high flame and once the water came to a boil, we lowered the heat to medium and let them softly boil for 5 minutes. In the meantime, we took a package of "Paschalia" "non-toxic, European Union Approved" Easer Egg Dye*, and mixed the contents with 1/2 cup white vinegar (in a glass we promised we'd never use again because of the red staining - Could this be the origin of the Greek plate-smashing tradition? Hmmm...

*Imagine how strong Greek Easter egg dye must be to render white eggs, not pink, but blood red!

Once the eggs were finished boiling, we took them out of the hot water and cooled them down. With some parsley, rose and I don't know what leaves clipped from the balcony plants, we proceeded to make the decorations.
We cut approx. 3 inch pieces from an old (but clean) pair of nylons. We placed one leaf onto an egg and stretched the nylon over everything, tying a knot in the back with some string. It's best to have two people working in this together, one to stretch and tighten the nylon and the other to tie the string.
Then in a bowl we'd promised never to use again either (opaah!), we put the eggs in and poured cold water to cover. We then poured in the vinegar/dye mixture and let the eggs sit for 5 minutes. After that, we returned the eggs to their carton and let them completely dry before cutting off the nylon and revealing the leaf pattern.

The final step was to take a paper towel, dip it in oil and rub the eggs with it to give them a shiny glow. Music to shine eggs by: The Strokes, "Is This It?" The track, "Last Nite" blends the best of hard-ass rock n' roll with Julian Casablancas' loungey lyrics. Have a listen. After that, you're ready for the Easter egg smashing competition!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

I love the way the leaves look against the brown eggs, too!

Smashing competition? Oh, my! How fun!


9:15 PM  
Blogger BETUL said...

We have "paskalya" buns in our patisseries. It's sweet bread flavoured with mahlep. Now I know where the name is coming from ;)
And the eggs..They look SMASHING..

11:19 PM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

stunning! they look too good to eat.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Fran said...

These are beautiful. What a wonderful tradition.

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I absolutely love this post and am happy to learn about Paschalia. The idea to imprint them with various leaves is really cool too but the color! Oh my!! Gotta love that red.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I forgot to add---regarding the comment you made on the flavor that ti leaves impart... the first thing that comes to mind is smoky, but that is because there is a smoky aroma as the ti leaves begin to cook. With the initial influence of smell over taste, that's the best that I can describe it.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

These are absolutely gorgeous, Susan! I just love the deep, blood red and the glossy finish! A couple of Easters ago my daughter was invited to spend Easter with her best friend's family (Ukranian); she came home with a couple of Easter Eggs that looked like they had been wrapped in wrapping paper, the kind you would use to wrap a gift in. Pretty!

I loved learning about Paschalia, thanks so much for sharing!

12:48 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Paz, Thanks! And thanks for visiting. We looked for white egs but couldn't find any.

Betul, I really like mahlebi (mahlep) but I have to wait to go to Greece to get it. I wonder if there are as many Greek words in Turkish as there are Turkish words in Modern Greek (a lot!)

Hello Melissa, I'm way diggin' you 'do!

Hi Fran, Thanks for stopping by!

Ti Leaves sound delicious if they can impart smokiness.

Lotus, Ukranian eggs are so much more interesting than these. I'm amazed that they can produce such intricate patterns.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Tracie P. said...

those look like beautiful little beets :)

3:39 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love this eggs. The first time I saw this was while I was living in Switzerland. I think this is such a novel idea and miss that a lot. Hmm - I'm going to have to think about doing this next year. Great blog!

4:35 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Expat Traveler,

We did these in Switzerland! How long did you live there? And where? I know only the Suisse Romande part.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Corrie said...

how gorgeous! and what's this about...smashing them??? they're too cute to smash!


6:00 AM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

Since you made a nice comment on our blog I thought I'd check out yours! I loved the red eggs with the leaf patterns! When my kids were little we used to do things like that with nylon stockings and leaves! We thought we made it up! Great, fantastic, red color!!!

Enjoyed reading through your blog also. And to answer your question, we will be in Verona after we leave Sicily end of May.

Rosemary & Bob

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Rosemary and Robert
we met in Brescia and I suggested
to exchange our photografs. My
pictures are ready but I have no e-mail to send them. Please drop
a line at
I do hope to hear soon from you
Best regards

Francesco Rigattieri

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The smashing part has to do with an easter morning tradition in Greece. Everyone plays a game of who will remain with an unbroken egg. It's played two people at a time. They each select an egg and hold it in one hand. They smash the end of their eggs together, and one or both eggs usually cracks. The object is to select an egg that will not crack. The person who's egg doesn't crack keeps knocking their egg with another person until everyone has played, even visitors. If someone remains without a cracked egg, that person is suppose to have luck for the rest of the year. Of course, it's nice to eat the eggs too. I loved reading the comments about the smashing and the red colour. I love it too. It's so wonderfully red.

6:05 AM  
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2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a nice way to paint the eggs, and very original too. Kamagra I really like the idea above.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous xanax said...

I am not real fantastic with English but I come up this real leisurely to interpret.

12:49 AM  

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