I've been skittish about eating green-dyed food since my mother colored the milk one St. Patrick’s Day and my brother got sick.
Yet I felt a steely adventurousness after reading New Scientist’s article about how red-cabbage juice turns fried eggs green. The chemistry is clever, although outweighed by what seems like a lot of culinary work instead of just using a drop of food color. Then I wondered: What if I could make green hard-boiled eggs?
Hadn’t dyes on the Easter eggs of my youth sometimes migrated through the shells to the egg whites inside? Every time I’d hard-boiled eggs, hadn't I seen bubbles escape through the shells as the cold eggs acclimated to the heated water? Might the shell’s porosity work in both directions, allowing some of the cabbage juice to be taken up into the egg?
So I simmered about a cup of shredded red cabbage in a small saucepan of water until the liquid turned a deep blue-purple. Then I added two eggs … hard-boiled them … cooled them … and cracked their shells. As my thumb peeled away the first bit of shell, I saw -- snow-white egg whites.
Should I have soaked the eggs in the colored water for a while before cooking them? If I’d taken room-temperature eggs and submerged them in ice-cold cabbage water, might they have sucked some in? Could I borrow a tiny insulin syringe and inject some cabbage water into the raw egg white? It took restraint to not pursue a way to get inside.
Then I imagined what I'd do with the eggs: the green-egg-salad-on-wheat sandwiches.
And soon enough, I felt a little like my brother.