With Easter just around the corner, Christians around the world are stocking up on eggs and dyes for the traditional egg dyeing. But while most of us have grown used to chemical dyes, some still prefer the natural approach, like boiling white eggs with onion skins. This is apparently very popular in Switzerland, where people actually pay for bags of onion peels selected specifically for egg dyeing.
Dyeing Easter eggs with onion skins is not a Swiss tradition. In fact, I remember my mother used to do it when I was little, taking differed plant leaves, and placing them on the eggs before wrapping them in a large onion skin, putting them in a sock and boiling them in a pot of water with more skins thrown in for a more intense coloring effect. But she used orange skins saved up for weeks in advance, instead of buying them from the supermarket, like some Swiss do nowadays.
Ukrainian newspaper The Observer recently published an article on the practice of selling packaged onion skins in Swiss supermarkets. They apparently received a series of pictures from readers who had recently traveled to the Solothurn canton of Switzerland and were surprised to find bags of skins on sale in several shops and supermarkets. They snapped some photos and asked their tour guide about them. Turns out onion skins are very popular around Easter.
The pictures published by The Observer show that a 85-gram bag of onion skins costs up to 2.80 Swiss francs ($2.84), which means that a kilogram goes for 33 francs ($33.5). That’s outrageously expensive considering that the same supermarket sells a pound of onions for just 2.80 francs. Granted, you’re not going to get as much skins from them, but still…
“Easter is coming up and natural Easter egg dyeing is very popular in Switzerland,” Inna, a Ukrainian tour guide living in Zurich told Gazeta.ua. “Back home, we used to save onion skins for months leading up to Easter, but that doesn’t happen in Switzerland, here it is considered junk, so the people buy it packaged, from the supermarket. They are luxury goods.”
I know what you’re thinking, ‘if onions are cheaper than onion skins, why not just buy a few pounds of onions?’ You can cook with them and use the dried skins to dye eggs instead of throwing them away. It makes sense, but after doing a bit of research, I found that some Swiss just find the packaged onion peels more convenient.
In a 2014 article published in the Solothurner Zeitung, Susanne Stauffer, from Staad, in Solothurn, says that she prefers to buy packaged onion skins because it saves her the effort of washing the onion skins to remove any dirt. They come pre-washed and create a more intense coloring effect than regular onion skins.
So if you’re looking for a lucrative business venture, turning trash into luxury goods just by packaging it seems like a good idea.