My lovely friend Adrienne of Whole New Mom will likely want to gag when she reads this post; like many in the whole/real foods movement, she’s so sick of reading posts about pickled this, and fermented that. Sorry, Adrienne! 🙂
I should preface this post by saying I have never once in my life eaten a pickled egg of any sort. In my earlier years, I was entirely put off by the three-gallon-jar-sized batches of eggs I would so often seen in family grocery stores, delis, bars, et cetera. Jars which The Community would reach into with their grubby, who-knows-what’s-on-them hands. Often, there were chunks of meat floating in the brine with the eggs. <shudder>
It was enough to give me the heebie jeebies, and ascribe a subconscious category of “Never ever ever ever ever” to pickled eggs. It didn’t help matters any that pickled eggs are often pickled with beet juice, and I am really not at all fond of beets.
It wasn’t until recently, when I began seeing all these yummy-looking recipes for pickled eggs, that I began to re-evaluate my stance upon them. Of late, I’ve developed a finer appreciation for hard-boiled eggs, and having found a slightly easier way to get them peeled (add a teaspoon of baking soda to the boiling water,) we’ve had them on-hand more often.
The ingredients and method below will fill one quart jar, and is easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, et cetera.
Recipe & Method for Making Spicy Pickled Eggs
6 hard-boiled eggs
2 cups of white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar, sucanat, rapadura, brown sugar, or other sweetener
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoonful pickling spice
1 heaping tablespoon red pepper flakes
5 whole cloves
1 cinammon stick
6 cloves of garlic, halved
1/4 onion, sliced
2 pickled or fresh hot peppers (jalapeno, habanero, scotch bonnet, serrano, et cetea,) sliced
Start with the oldest eggs you have in your fridge that are still good enough to eat. See this article to determine egg freshness.
For the eggs:
Place the eggs into a pan large enough to fit the eggs and enough water to cover them, plus an additional inch of water over the top.
Cover with cold water, then, for each quart of water, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and one teaspoon of baking soda. The salt and baking soda should make the eggs easier to peel.
Cover, and place over medium heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the water is at a rolling boil, turn off the heat and leave the pot on the hot burner, and leave the cover on the pot. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
When the 10 minutes are up, drain the eggs, and fill the pot with cold water. This ostensibly helps to separate the shell and membrane from the white.
Peel the eggs using whatever method you find easiest. Personally, I hate peeling eggs, and I suck at it. I have tried every method under the sun, including the one outlined in this video:
Instead of the egg popping out neatly, I pulled a muscle in my back blowing so hard. I resort to cracking the eggs on each end, rolling the eggs between my hands until well-cracked, and then picking away at the shells, taking a large amount of white with them.
Yeah – not pretty. The smooth, pretty ones were the speckled eggs; maybe there’s some difference, who knows. While I lament the loss of white, I don’t really give much of a thought to how they look.
For the brine:
In a medium pot, combine 2 cups white vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoonful pickling spice, 1 heaping tablespoon red pepper flakes, 5 whole cloves, 1 cinammon stick, 6 halved cloves of garlic, 2 hot peppers, and 1/4 onion.
Adjust the level of heat by using more or less red pepper flakes – the way it’s written here brings a mouth-searing level of heat.
Place over medium heat, bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. During this process, I recommend not inhaling the fumes directly over the pot. Rather, if you feel compelled to sniff closely, waft the fumes toward your nose using your hand from a couple of feet away.
After the 15 minutes passes, allow the brine to cool a bit, then ladle some of the brine and veggies into the bottom of a clean quart jar. Put in 3 eggs, then more brine and veggies. Then more eggs, then more brine, et cetera, until the jar is full to the neck.
Put on a lid, tighten it up, and allow to cool before putting into the fridge.
Now, here’s the hard part: Wait three weeks before eating.
You can push it to two, if you’re really, really impatient, but the longer you wait, the more intense the heat and flavor.
I’ll report back when our two weeks are up. 😉
Report: April 26, 2012
Two weeks wasn’t enough to really let the spices permeate the egg; at two weeks, my test egg was tasty and delicious, but not spicy like I wanted it to be. Thus, I waited even longer.
Today’s egg was a damn sight spicier, and just as delicious. The white seems to have toughened up a bit in its bath, but that’s ok.
The outside of the whites are a lovely, medium tan color, while the innards maintain their original coloration:
The yolk is creamy and delicious.
Yesterday, I noticed this post appears on the front page of Google searches for “spicy pickled egg;” yay!
It’s the bottom of the front page, but the front page nonetheless.
To celebrate, I boiled another batch of eggs, cursed and swore the entire time I peeled them, nearly pulled another muscle in my back trying the “blow the egg out of its shell” deal (failed miserably,) and plopped them into the brine from the first batch.
Now I can’t imagine many pathogens would grow in the vinegar/spice medium, but it may not be safe to reuse the brine – just bear that in mind. I’m not a microbiologist or a health professional, so your mileage may vary.