My apologies for teaching granny to suck eggs (or blow them) if you are already familiar with this technique. However if, like me prior to today, you haven’t tried it, I can wholeheartedly recommend it as a great way of emptying egg shells to decorate for Easter. The resulting shells will last for years if stored carefully, and are far easier to decorate than the polystyrene eggs you can buy in the shops at this time of year.
Last year we tried dying boiled eggs, but the boys wouldn’t eat them because the shells were “funny colours”, plus it seems a shame to break something you’ve spent time making, so this year we have produced something different. Here are ten easy steps to follow:
1. Choose your eggs. Most eggs here in the UK are brown, so it can take a bit of hunting to find pale ones that are arguably prettier to decorate. We went for ‘Braddock’s white’s’ duck eggs. If you only have brown eggs, don’t worry, just decorate with thicker paint. Cheap, thin shelled caged hens eggs will disintegrate if you try to blow them, so another good reason to opt for free-rangers.
2. Using a clean bodkin needle (or a sturdy pin) scratch the surface of the very top of the shell to remove some of the hardest outer layer (you can do this with sandpaper too), then poke the needle down into the egg (this will take a little bit of balance between the force needed to push it in vs not holding the egg too hard so that it cracks, and not having the needle slip and skewer you, so is a job for an adult).
3. Swap to a metal skewer, poke the skewer into the needle hole which will widen it, then push
the skewer all the way through and out through the base of the egg. I started by making both top and bottom holes with a needle, but found that it was much easier to break out of the egg than into it, hence using the skewer to make the bottom hole from the inside. If you haven’t got a skewer, a clean nail will widen holes made by a needle.
4. Holding your egg over a jug, use your skewer to scramble up the inside of the egg to break up the yoke sack. Toby enjoyed doing this “just like a pharaoh’s brain”, ew.
5. You could then put your mouth over the top hole and blow the eggs contents into your jug, but I found it easier and probably more hygienic to use a medicine syringe. Alternatively you could insert a straw cut to a few centimetres long into the top hole and blow down that.
6. Rinse the egg under a tap. I allowed the egg to partly fill with water and then blew it out again.
7. Repeat previous steps for as many eggs as you need. It’s not a very difficult process but takes a bit of time and patience, so I wouldn’t promise the kids dozens to decorate until you have had a go at one.
8. Pat dry, place on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 15 seconds to sterilize and harden the egg. You could alternatively bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or leave this step out altogether.
9. Return to box, with one hole pointing down, and allow to dry thoroughly.
10. Decorate however you fancy. Traditional techniques include using onion skins to make a dye, and eggs painted with acrylic look great and will last for ages, but we went with a quick and simple alternative of using brush pens. Once dry they can be varnished with either real varnish or my old standby of a coat of PVA glue.
This technique can be used to produce egg shells for a shell collection, but rather than raiding hedgerows as kids would have done a couple of generations ago, you can build up an interesting collection using commercially available eggs, from tiny quails eggs, through a variety of shades of chicken eggs, duck eggs, and even an emu egg if you hunt in farm shops and farmers markets (although I suspect a drill might be needed to tackle that one).
I love that there is no waste in this activity too – the egg yolks and whites were whisked with a little milk, a teaspoon of dill, half a teaspoon of turmeric, cooked over a medium heat and served as scrambled eggs on home made bread toast, with a garnish of a tomato paste smiley face.
How would you decorate them? I’d love to hear below! Your comments make my day 🙂
Note: the risk of salmonella is very remote these days, but it’s always good to practice sensible hygiene around raw egg products, such as hand washing before and after. The activity does involve sharp things, so with small kids around I would blow and clean the eggs first, then just get the children to decorate them.