Thanks to Marisa from Food in Jars for creating a challenge that keeps us thinking. I’ve always wanted to pickle hard-boiled eggs. This year I did it! For an Easter egg hunt no less. Not that we needed any more eggs.
The point of pickling eggs is more than turning them a pretty color, though I love that part. It is also to imbue them with a flavorful tang. Since they can be served simply as halved hard-boiled eggs, deviled with a creamy filling, turned into egg salad with complementary ingredients, or used as garnish, the pickling liquid should be tasty. This helps not only the eggs but also the other ingredients, the “aromatics” such as beets, onions, shallots, et cetera that are added to flavor the liquid. I made two versions of pickled eggs: one in a turmeric-laced solution derived from Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks blog, and the other, with pickled beets derived from Leela Cyd’s beautiful new cookbook, Food with Friends. The beet version pickles quickly so make it about 24 hours in advance, whereas the turmeric version can be made even a week ahead, and would benefit from the longer soak. After the eggs are gone, make sure to use the pickled shallots from the turmeric version, and the pickled beets. Even the pickling liquid is good for you, splashed into seltzer.For an Easter party, I used the beautifully hued product for deviled eggs. Garnished with snippets of things and nestled on a bed of microgreens, they were perfect for a garden party. See my tips below for hard boiling eggs, making deviled egg filling from the yolks, and quick-pickling red onion for garnish.
Beet-pickled Eggs adapted from Leela Cyd, Food with Friends
6-8 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled (see tip below)
4 very small red beets, cooked in lightly salted water until tender (reserve ½ c water)
1 tsp whole cumin seed
1 tsp whole mustard seed
1 tsp whole fennel seed
½ c white wine vinegar
1 c water
½ c reserved beet cooking liquid
1/3 c light brown sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
Prepare the eggs and the beets. Clean a one-quart jar with a lid. Place the eggs and beets in the jar.
Lightly toast the cumin, mustard and fennel seeds in a dry skillet, cool them slightly and add to the jar.
Combine the vinegar, water, beet cooking liquid, sugar and salt and stir to combine. Pour over the eggs and beets. Cover the jar and shake it gently to allow the liquid to surround the eggs completely and distribute the seeds.
Place in the refrigerator for 18-24 hours (or longer, but the whites will have turned completely pink by then).
Turmeric-pickled Eggs adapted from Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks
6-8 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled (see tip below)
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced (or use a yellow onion)
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
1 1/3 c cider
½ c water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp fine grain sea salt
2 tsp ground turmeric
Prepare the eggs. Clean a one-quart jar with lid. Place the eggs in the jar with the sliced shallots or onion and the peppercorns.
Place the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and turmeric in a small saucepan over medium heat, and warm slightly, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve and the turmeric is well combined. Pour over the eggs in the jar. Cover the jar and shake it gently to allow the liquid to surround the eggs completely and distribute the peppercorns and the shallots or onions.
Once the liquid is completely cooled, place the jar in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, or up to a week.
Tip 1: Hard-boiling and shelling eggs. Older eggs are easier to peel. Since I get mine from a local farm, I try to stock up a couple weeks before a party. Otherwise, pick up the dozen with the closest expiration date. Place eggs in a saucepan one layer, not crowding them. Cover with 1-2 inches of cold water. Bring to a gentle boil on the stove. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the eggs sit for about 10 minutes (a couple minutes less for soft yolks and a couple more for firm eggs. Remove the eggs to a large bowl of ice water and let sit until cool. Since it’s easiest to peel eggs under water, I crack them on the side of the bowl and peel them neatly while submerged.
Tip 2: Filling for deviled eggs. Half the hard-boiled eggs and carefully remove the yolks to a bowl and mash them with a fork. Traditionally, mayonnaise is the main ingredient to turn them into a creamy mass, but I prefer to use 3 parts plain yogurt and 2 parts high-quality mayonnaise (e.g., 3 tbsp yogurt and 2 tbsp mayo), and good dab of Dijon mustard (the brand Edmond Fallot is the best, and worth hunting down). To the mashed yolks, I might add a pinch of ground cumin or freshly snipped chives or dill. A traditional garnish is a sprinkling of paprika, but you could use capers, herbs, pickled shallots or onion, pickled beets, etc.
Tip 3: Quick-pickled red onion. Whenever I get to the end of a red onion I’m using for something else, instead of tossing it into the compost, I dice it into tiny cubes and add a splash of wine vinegar (usually white) and maybe a pinch of sugar. Let this sit on the counter for at least a half hour, and you have pickled onion to use on a myriad of dishes, or even just as a base for salad dressing.