A friend ordered organic hard-boiled eggs from Safeway for home delivery. He discovered that the hardboiled eggs came in different colors. Not the white or brown eggs that come in a carton. These eggs were in bright shades of red, blue, green, yellow, and purple. He has never seen eggs like these before. That raised an interesting question. Are colored hard-boiled Easter eggs kosher for Passover?
Jews and Christians have different traditions for eating hard-boiled eggs.
The hard-boiled egg became part of the Passover dinner after the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. Roasted and dipped in salt water, the hard-boiled egg represents: the renewal of life, the sweat and tears of ancestors escaping Egypt, and the roasted animal sacrifices brought to the temple. The volume of an eggshell was also use as a measuring cup.
Christians in the Middle Ages observed Lent with 40 days of fasting before Easter. While no one ate the eggs, the chickens kept laying them. No one wanted the eggs to go to waste. They poked pinholes in the top and bottom of the egg, blew out the yolk and whites, and decorated them. Hard-boiled eggs, dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, were a special treat on Easter Day.
Another difference in traditions is that Jews have strict dietary laws on what can be eaten for every day and Passover. Most of those dietary laws are common sense food safety precautions that everyone takes for granted today. We need to look at the eggs and the food coloring being kosher.
Are eggs kosher for Passover?
Organic eggs collected from nests in the hen house or the wild are kosher. Note the emphasis on the word organic.
Commercial eggs that come off the conveyor belt are not always kosher. Even if the egg carton bears the proper kosher certification.
All eggs must come from chickens that are not defective or dead, and the egg yolks must not have blood in them.
Is the food coloring for dying eggs kosher for Passover?
Food coloring made from natural ingredients—like beets for red, saffron for yellow, and purple cabbage for blue—are kosher. Food coloring made from dead insects are not kosher. Artificial food coloring based on chemicals is a complicated subject for kosher certification.
None of that matters for dyed hard-boiled eggs, as most people don’t eat the eggshells.
Are colored hard-boiled Easter eggs kosher for Passover?
An Orthodox Jew would stick to the traditional egg for the Passover dinner and order from a kosher market.
For everyone else, a hard-boiled egg is a hard-boiled egg. No matter what color it may be coming from Safeway.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert in Jewish dietary laws. I have simplified some explanations to make them more interesting and fun. Take that with a dash of salt on your hard-boiled eggs.