We have a friend who lives in Harrowsmith and he has a few hens. And where there are hens there are eggs, lots and lots of eggs. So every time we visit Matthew we get a bunch of farm fresh eggs, which is great. We love eggs, and having a surplus means delicious omelettes, frittatas and a plethora of baked goods that utilize lots of yolks, like custards and French Vanilla ice cream, and the whites get used for meringues and pavlovas. But what to do when the eggs start piling up faster than we can devour them? Why, pickle them of course!
Pickling vegetables, meats and eggs started out as a way of preserving food in the days before refrigeration, and it’s still a great way to preserve the bounty. Pickled eggs are delicious and surprisingly fun to eat, as a snack by themselves, with a frosty brew, or served on a charcuterie plate with other pickled vegetables, meats and cheeses. Plus they keep in the fridge indefinitely, so it’s kind of nice to know that when you’re feeling a little peckish, a pickled egg is waiting for you. Also, pickling is fun, just ask these guys, they’ll pickle anything!
You don’t have to restrict yourself to hen eggs either. Quail eggs (which you can buy at Fiesta Farms) are great for pickling too; as they are much smaller than even the small sized hen’s eggs, they make for a smaller snack, and a daintier presentation. The word here is cute. Pickled eggs, delicious on their own, can also be visually stunning if preserved in a bright coloured solution like beet juice, or with saffron or turmeric or black tea. And a little quail’s egg, hard-boiled then pickled in a vibrant colour is pretty much adorable and hard to resist popping whole into your mouth. Adding different spices and vinegars to your pickling solution will also result in different tasting eggs; milder vinegars like white vinegar make a less robust statement than say malt vinegar, and if you want to spice things up a bit, maybe add a little more garlic or a jalapeno pepper to your pickling solution.
Before pickling you want to hard-boil your eggs and peel them. Older eggs are easier to peel after they are boiled than super fresh eggs, so if you’re about to boil, peel and pickle, start with eggs that are a couple weeks old. To ensure a perfectly boiled egg, bring eggs out of the fridge for about an hour and let warm to room temperature, or immerse in warm water for about 5 minutes. Place them in a pot with cold water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Drain and place eggs in cold water for 5 minutes before peeling. Peel while the egg is still warm by cracking the shell at the large end of the egg where the air sack is, you can do this under running cold water if you find that easier.
Basic Pickled eggs
12 medium sized hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1-2 cups white or apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons pickling spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic
Note: If you want that gorgeous beet colouring, substitute a cup of beet juice for the cup of water. For tea-coloured eggs, use strong black tea instead of water, and for bright yellow or gold eggs, add a teaspoon of turmeric or saffron to the water.
Bring the vinegar, water/beet juice, pickling spice, salt and sugar to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about ten minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Add eggs, garlic and onion to a sterilized one-quart mason jar; strain liquid and pour over eggs, filling the jar to the rim. Seal tightly with the lid and store in a cool dark place, like your fridge, for a couple of weeks before enjoying. Kept in the fridge they will last for a few months. But not really, because you will have eaten them by then, right?