Salt and vinegar are key to preserving a bounty of fresh eggs in spring.
Photo courtesy Aubrie Pick
Compact in size, potent in nutrition, easy to cook, and delicious to eat, eggs are a gift to protein lovers everywhere. Add the transformation of a cured egg, and the possibilities are endless. Cured and pickled eggs have a texture that’s unique; they become firmer and meatier, and you can imbue them with herbs and spices to bring extra flavor to any dish.
As with most preserves, salt and vinegar are the key players here, and both yield unique results that must be tested and tasted to be believed. So whether your chickens are producing more eggs than you can use, or you’ve found a farmers market deal that’s too good to pass up, if you’re fortunate enough to have a genuine surplus of fresh eggs in your life, these recipes are for you.
Dry-Cured Egg Yolks
Time: About 4 days.
Perhaps you’ve just whipped up a bunch of meringues, or an angel food cake, or macaroons, and you’ve found yourself with egg yolks to spare. Try salt-curing your bounty, and you’ll have a delicious secret ingredient at the ready. Use them as you would Parmesan cheese for the same sort of savory, salty flavor: Grate them over pasta, soups, or stews, or sprinkle them over avocado toast. You can also add flavors such as cayenne or dried herbs (powdery-fine so as not to break the yolks) to the cure if you want to mix things up. The following recipe scales up or down well. Plan on using 3/4 cup each of sugar and salt for every 4 yolks.
Yield: 8 yolks.
Salt-cured egg yolks provide a distinctive taste when grated over pasta, soups, and stews.
Photo by Stocksy/Suzanne Clements
- 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 1-1/2 cups kosher salt, divided
- 8 eggs
- Combine 1 cup of the sugar and 1 cup of the salt in the bottom of an 8-inch square pan, or a container large enough to hold 8 egg yolks without touching.
- Use the back of a soup spoon to shape 8 evenly spaced indentations in the salt and sugar cure. Don’t dig too deeply; you want every part of the bottom of the yolk to be touching sugar and salt.
- In another dish, separate 1 egg. Carefully transfer the egg yolk into one of the indentations, and reserve the egg white for another use. Follow suit with the rest of the eggs, one at a time. It’s OK if you accidentally break a yolk, but it’s best to keep them intact.
- Gently pour the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup salt on top of the yolks to form little mounds. Check to make certain the yolks are covered fully on all sides.
- Cover the dish or container with a tight lid or wrap. Carefully move it to the refrigerator and let the yolks cure for 4 days.
- After the 4 days are up, preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take the dish from the fridge and remove all the cured yolks; they’ll be firm enough to handle. Discard the salt and sugar, and gently rinse the yolks to remove the extra cure.
- Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Place the yolks on the rack, and then slide the pan into the oven. Let them dry and finish curing for 35 minutes. Your yolks are now ready to be used.
Storage: Keep the yolks wrapped in waxed paper in the cheese drawer of the fridge; the longer they age, the harder and more cured they’ll become. Refrigerated, they’ll keep for at least 3 months.
Colorful Beet-Pickled Eggs
Time: At least 4 days.
These colorful eggs can easily become a beautiful, portable potluck item. Eat them whole, slice them atop salads, or split them to make vibrant deviled eggs.
Yield: 6 eggs.
Photo by Stocksy/Jen Grantham
- 6 eggs
- 1 small red beet, peeled and quartered
- 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- Carefully place the eggs in a single layer in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Cover and cook over high heat until the water is boiling rapidly. Turn off the heat, keep the pot covered, and let it sit for 6 minutes. When the time is up, immediately drain the eggs and then run them under cold water until they’re cool enough to handle.
- Combine the beet, garlic, sugar, salt, peppercorns, celery seeds, dill seeds, red pepper flakes (if using), cloves, bay leaf, water, and vinegar in the saucepan over high heat. Bring the brine to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, crack an eggshell by gently rapping its top and bottom against the countertop, and then rolling it along its side. For best results, start peeling the egg from the large, round top, where you’ll notice a small pocket of space beneath the shell. Follow suit with the rest of the eggs.
- Place the peeled eggs in a 1-1/2-quart canning jar. Pour the warm brine (including all the solids) over the eggs to submerge them completely. If the eggs stick to the sides of the jar, shimmy or stir the jar to surround each egg with the brine.
- Cover the eggs and refrigerate for at least 4 days.
Storage: Completely submerged in the brine and refrigerated, the eggs will keep for at least 3 weeks.
Time: At least 5 weeks.
Eggs are porous orbs. Their shells may look solid, but they’re not watertight. While you may be used to the idea of salting your cooked eggs, brining raw eggs in the shell in saltwater could be a new frontier. The color of the egg yolks will brighten, and their texture will become firm. The flavor will become fascinating — salty, earthy, and unique. Note that these eggs must be cooked before being eaten. Try them halved or chopped atop soups, stews, or rice.
Yield: 6 eggs.
Simple to make but full of flavor, salt-brined eggs deserve a permanent place in your larder.
Photo by Getty Images/NatashaBreen
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 3 cups water
- Place a 3-quart (or larger) container with a lid on a stable surface in a cool, out-of-the-way location away from direct sunlight. Carefully place the whole eggs inside the container, being careful not to break them as you go.
- Combine the salt and the water in a pitcher, and stir until you have a cloudy brine. Gently pour the brine over the eggs to cover them. Keep the eggs below the brine line. If the eggs float, fill a zip-close bag with water and use it as a weight to submerge the eggs.
- Allow the eggs to sit out of the way in the brine for at least 5 weeks. (After 12 weeks, they’ll be too salty to enjoy.) There won’t be any visible change in the eggs.
- To cook the eggs, place a small saucepan on the stove. Gently remove the eggs from the brine and carefully set them in the bottom of the pot (they’re still raw and could crack). Pour a pitcher of fresh water over the eggs to cover them completely. Cover the pot, and cook over high heat until the water is boiling rapidly. Turn off the heat, keep the pot covered, and let sit for 6 minutes. When the time is up, immediately drain the eggs and then run them under cold water until they’re cool enough to handle.
- To serve, gently roll an egg between your hand and a hard, flat surface to crack the shell all over. Peel the egg. The white will be set but soft, and the yolk will be very firm and bright. Eat the eggs whole, split them in half lengthwise, or chop them.
Storage: Once they’re cooked, store the eggs in the refrigerator, and eat them within 1 week.
Text and recipes excerpted from Cured Meat, Smoked Fish & Pickled Eggs by Karen Solomon. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.