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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Eggs for 18,000, Please

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
With Easter coming up, you might be thinking about dying some eggs for your family. But what if you'd like to host an Easter egg hunt for the whole town? Here's a post from my blog how to go about it:

My fingers are orange. I've been dying Easter eggs. I've been dying a LOT of Easter eggs. Sixty-three cases, holding 24 dozen each, equals 18,144 eggs; plus the 2,000 plastic eggs we filled with candy, and a select few more with vouchers for bigger prizes.

Those whose egg dying exploits are limited to a household dozen or so might be curious about procedures for Easter egg production on such a scale. First, you send out a plea to the community for helpers on the Saturday before Easter. Find an egg source, and some sort of refrigerated space. Then, figure out how you're going to hard-boil all those eggs. In years past, the Nevada National Guard has helped by bringing out their emergency response cooking vats to boil our vast quantities of eggs, but their services and personnel have been stretched too thin to help the past few years.

So, you ask the community to lend their deep-fat turkey fryers. I didn't count, but we probably had at least 15 lined up and cooking. Get the water simmering, and add lots of salt to keep any broken eggs from sticking to the rest of the batch. Make egg baskets out of chicken wire, two per cooker. Set up an unpacking station - taking the raw eggs out of the cartons and filling the baskets. Each basket holds five dozen eggs.

Start boiling. Cook each basket of eggs about 30 minutes. Normal cooking time at our altitude would be around 20 minutes, but adding that many eggs to the water cooled it down some, and no one wanted to take a chance with an undercooked egg breaking in a child's basket. The cooks would test-crack an egg to check doneness, so there were plenty of eggs for snacking. In the meantime, get your hot dog crew to start setting up - these volunteers are gonna want some lunch soon. Having a beautiful spring day for an undertaking of this size is a definite plus.

Set up your dye vats with cool water and plenty of vinegar. We use food coloring dye by the pint and vinegar by the gallon. Do your primary-color dye batches - red, green, yellow, and blue - first. When you have enough of those colors start some mixed and diluted batches to get orange, purple, apricot, pink, and yellow-green.

Dip and dunk and swirl and tip the baskets of hot eggs in the dye until the dye chiefs are satisfied with the color. Take the eggs over to the packing station and dump them (carefully!) into that color's tub. If you're working this station, an old shirt and latex gloves are a necessity - those folks are very colorful, to say the least. Repack the eggs into single-color cartons and pass them over to the people packing the cartons back into the cases, also labeled by color.

The cases are then wheeled over and packed back into a refrigerated truck, for delivery to the Sunday egg hunt the next day. Get more volunteers to scatter the eggs, line the kids up, and turn 'em loose!


Teri @ Love From the Farm said...

What an undertaking! Looks like you have it down to a science. When I started reading your post, I immediately flashed to that awful moment in Steel Magnolias when Shirley MacLaine slammed down the lid on the trunk full of Easter eggs that Dolly Parton's character had dyed. Yikes!!

Joyful said...

I'm impressed with your organizational ability and dedication to this project. Good for you!

Kristy said...

Holy cow - how awesome!!!

Look what the human hand and mind can do when the heart is right in it huh.

:) Enjoy!

brendie said...

not meaning to be rude but...ummm..why?

sl.tudor said...

That is amazing..i think thats whats missing these days..a community spirit and making special occasions special..don't envy you dying them all though..good grief what an adventure though..
take care

Kuhns Acres said...

That is quite an undertaking, but have you thought about all plastic eggs? At our church in Texas we would host a hunt with 20,000+ plastic eggs. More and more each year. At the end of the hunt we asked the families to recycle their eggs in boxes so that we could reuse them the next year.

brendie said...

ok, ive googled easter egg hunt so now i see its an old tradition, We dont do that here :) just give marshmallow eggs to eat.

Anonymous said...

that is crazy! i have never heard of so many eggs being boiled for easter before!!
will the eggs be eaten though? i know (as a child, and now as an adult) that i don't like eating eggs at all (except for chocolate ones!)
it would be such a shame to see a lot of eggs go to waste or to be used purely as decoration...