My fingers are orange. I've been dying Easter eggs. I've been dying a LOT of Easter eggs. I spent the morning helping the local Kiwanis Club and other assorted helpers prepare for the big Easter Egg hunt tomorrow. 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. In years past, the Nevada National Guard has helped by bringing out their emergency response cooking vats to boil vast quantities of eggs, but their services and personnel are stretched too thin to help this year.
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 used food coloring dye by the pint and vinegar by the gallon. Do your single-color dye batches - red, green, yellow, and blue - first. When we had enough of those colors we started some mixed and diluted batches to get orange, purple, apricot, pink, and a really pretty 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 the truck, for delivery to our Governors Field tomorrow morning. I'll probably get Aries to go help scatter the eggs tomorrow morning, since he'll be off work. More on that later.