Pickled Eggs for an Easter Treat


pickled eggs

Pickled eggs are a delicacy in the South. They baffle my Northwestern friends, ranging from completely unknown to stigmatized synonymy of the radioactive lookalikes found in gas station delis. My newfound desire to redefine the pickled egg returns me to my southern roots. Each spring, my grandmother would boil and peel a dozen eggs, then add them to beet pickles she had preserved in the fall. The eggs would cure for about a month, until the whites were dyed a royal purple. I remember being mesmerized by these strange, tangy treats as a kid. When my mischievous hens decided to initiate an early Easter egg hunt, hiding 16 eggs beneath their nesting boxes, I couldn’t resist the urge.

Perfecting the Boiled Egg

This is a topic deserving of attention. Who knew it could be so hard to agree on instructions for a seemingly simple task?

The Canadian Egg Industry instructs to place eggs in a single layer on the bottom of a saucepan and cover with cold water, about an inch above the eggs. Cover with a lid. On high heat, bring eggs to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and let stand in water for 18-23 minutes (larger eggs longer), keeping the lid on. Drain water and immediately run cold water over eggs until cooled.

Interestingly, the American Egg Board suggests removing from heat to sit for 9-15 minutes. Likewise, the final step is to cool in running water or a bowl of ice water, then refrigerate.

Cooking experts like Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse (among others) differ subtly on the best methods to boil eggs, but across the board there is agreement on the following precepts for peeling: avoid fresh eggs and cool the eggs after heating. By fresh eggs, I mean the freshest of eggs, think chickens in the backyard. The truth of the matter is: store bought eggs have traveled and that takes time. Don’t use nearly expired eggs for pickling, because they will need to cure in the refrigerator. In the book On Food and Cooking, author Harold McGee suggests adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water to augment the PH level of the albumen in the whites of fresh eggs (which happens naturally during aging). 

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