At 10 years old, Maddie Morrison is no stranger to coloring Easter eggs.
But this year she tried something a little different.
Instead of using food coloring and store-bought tools, she used natural dyes made from blueberries, coffee grounds, turmeric seasoning, beet juice and onion skins.
“We put them in boiling hot water, and then we put the turmeric in it, and then we took the eggs and we put them in there, and we let them sit for 10 minutes, and they dyed the color,” said Maddie, describing how she and her mom made the bright orange eggs that sat in a clementine box among Easter grass and many colorful others. “We thought it would be darker.”
Maddie was one of 11 children who learned how to color hard-boiled eggs in a more natural way Thursday morning at the Central Park Greenhouse classroom.
Tyler Smith looked over his box of colorful eggs, picked up a beet-colored egg and gave it a big whiff.
“It smells sweet,” the 9-year-old Colonie boy said. Usually when he smells a freshly-colored Easter egg, it's pretty pungent.
Tyler liked the coffee-colored egg the best.
“It smells like coffee!” he said.
Maddie, of Burnt-Hills, said she prefers the new method.
“You’re using nature,” she said. “Let’s say you didn’t have the tools. You can use what you have right in front of you.”
That was the lesson that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County educators hoped the children would learn.
“We’re showing the kids, obviously, and the adults in their lives how to do things a more natural way,” said senior resource educator Denise Kolankowski, who planned to dispose of the natural dyes by dumping them in the compost bins outside the classroom. “That’s the big thing that we try to teach — how to think of ways to do crafts without spending a lot of money.”
Don and Carolyn Menner brought their grandchildren Braeden Lowe, 10, and Teagan, 8, of Schenectady, to the class.
“My wife took many notes so we can take them back home where we live and use with our other grandkids,” said Don, who was visiting from Cincinnati, Ohio. “We got a lot of good ideas here.”
“It’s a neat hands-on activity,” Carolyn added.