When Easter time comes rolling around, everyone enjoys the tradition of coloring eggs. Hard boiling eggs and then using your artistic touch is not only fun but can be a true learning experience for younger members of your family and their friends.

Waste not – want not is true even when coloring eggs for the Easter Basket. Scraps of food that you would otherwise just toss can and do produce some of the brilliant hues that make you “Ah” when placed in a basket for a centerpiece on the table or as part of your mealtime plans.

The deepness of the colors depend on your preferences and if you enjoy mixing and matching, then using rubber bands around the eggs, or wax will allow for that decorative touch that we all have hidden in our “creativity” file right there next to “holidays are special”. These files while hidden deep in our minds do come out once in a while and when they do, beauty and elegance as well as remarkable can be used to describe our efforts.

In the “purple” family – ordinary bottled grape juice is a “natural”. For lavender, a shorter soaking period will produce this “spring” color, while a deeper shade comes with prolonged “soaking.” While red onions have red skins, they do produce the color red, but also shades of violet and deep blues. Using pomegranate juice is an interesting and tasty way to get shades of ruby. Remember to boil any “natural” coloring in water and allow it to cool. This brings out the “artistic” qualities of the natural products.

For brown or tan, try using dill seeds and if you like brown with a touch of orange then chili powder will give you that effect. Yellow which is a very popular color for Spring can be obtained with orange and lemon peels and you also get the aroma of these two citrus fruits which makes your whole kitchen smell like a breath of fresh air.

Deep brown or true chocolate brown – strong coffee and if you use instant coffee then vary the amount to reach the intensity you like. Orange comes with yellow onion skins and pink shines through with beet juice (and you have a vegetable for dinner) or use cranberry juice. In any of these products use only the “juice” and remove any solids from your bowl before placing the eggs in them.

Green is bright and can be obtained by using spinach leaves and a lighter lime green or yellow/green comes with apple peels, especially the Delicious variety.

Coloring eggs is not hard – it is well worth the extra effort and you can experiment on your own. While cooking vegetables or using a spice that your family enjoys, note the colors that it produces and try them with your egg coloring venture. It is all natural, with no chemicals or preservatives and it is time well spent. Imagine the truly stunning baskets you can create as well as watch the smiles if you use eggs as place setting “extras.”

However you use Easter eggs, enjoy the moment, and enjoy the experience. Your creativity will bloom just like the lilies and tulips that are part and parcel of this Holiday. Something to think about ă€¢rleen M. Kaptur February, 2009