ECOLOGICAL COLOURING OF EASTER EGGS AND MORE…
The tradition of decorating Easter eggs can be dated back to antiquity, and in Poland in particular it is probably as old as Christianity. Back in the day, pigments used in the process were of course completely natural and some of them such as the decoction made form red beetroots or onions can be still useful.
Zygmunt Gloger in his work titled “ The Dictionary of Ancient Things” recalls different sources of pigment substances such as: bark of a wild apple-tree, mallow flower or safflower. He also mentions spices such as saffron, that was also used as a source of yellow pigment for cakes (read an article about alcohol in baking here) or flavoured vodkas called Nalewki.
A vodka producer from Wroclaw, in his book “ The Art of distilling various vodkas from Wroclaw and Gdansk” from 1828 also mentions saffron as the source of a yellow pigment. He also recalls other components used for obtaining colour during production. They may sound quite exotic: for example Brazilian tree (Caesalpinia brasiliensis) as a source of brown pigment, true indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) used to obtain blue pigments or a mix of extracts form the sandalwood tree, litmus (from lichens), galangal and root of a violet – all used to create bright red colour. The creativity of our ancestors in the field of creating various natural pigments was truly impressive.
Article by Sebastian Gaik tour guide in the Polish Vodka Museum.