Food + Wine

Easter Eggs, Swiss Style: A Gemperle Farms Tradition

March 19
12:46 2015
Easter Eggs, Swiss Style: A Gemperle Farms Tradition

At California's Gemperle Farms, dyeing Easter eggs serves as one of our most cherished family traditions. The tradition of decorating eggs dates back centuries, yet no one takes Easter egg traditions more seriously than Europeans. Many countries in Europe have unique traditions and techniques for decorating Easter eggs, which are then strung on vines, hung from trees, exchanged as gifts and featured in games.

Historically, eggs represent rebirth, new life, and spring, so often their decorations are symbolic. In Greece and the Middle East, eggs are dyed a bright red to reflect Christ's blood. In some countries, the egg represents the rock laid in front of Jesus' tomb. In Austria and Germany, only hollow green eggs are allowed leading up to Easter Sunday, at which point people display elaborately decorated eggs. In Eastern Europe, people use wax to decorate Easter eggs with intricate designs. Here, you often see the sun symbolizing good fortune, a deer representing good health and flowers signifying love.

"The Gemperle Family relies on the Swiss tradition for dyeing our eggs. With this method, children use roots, leaves and blossoms to decorate their Easter eggs," explained Gemperle Farms President, Steve Gemperle. Everything from grass to crocuses and daffodils can be used to create interesting and unique patterns on the eggs. This natural method also utilizes onion peels to color the eggs. The outcome is always a mystery and two eggs never look the same.

"We have keen memories of our dad bringing home fresh eggs from the ranch and our mother boiling the onion skins, plopping the egg in the solution and eagerly waiting for the color to emerge," Gemperle Farms President Steve Gemperle remembers. "I could not wait to remove the cheese cloth and see the secret image inside."

Decorating eggs is a fun and memorable family tradition. As a family, capture and celebrate the Easter season and coming of spring with these easy to follow Swiss Easter Egg instructions or watch this Easter Egg video.

Gemperle Family All-Natural Easter Eggs Swiss-Style

All Natural Dye Ingredients

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • 5 cups of water
  • 8 cups loosely packed onion skins (yellow onion skins give an orange hue while red onion skins lend a reddish-brown hue)
  • 4 Tablespoons vinegar


  1. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with 5 cups of water and put over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion skins and simmer covered for 15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
  3. Strain the liquid into a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Add the vinegar to the onion skin water.
  5. Let cool to room temperature.
  6. Add hard-boiled eggs to the onion skin water. Remember that the longer you leave the egg in the solution, the darker it becomes.

At Gemperle Farms, we found 30 minutes works best for most colors. The colors will deepen the longer the eggs soak in the natural dye solution. If you plan to leave your eggs in the solution longer, place them in the refrigerator.



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