These classic pickled eggs are a fantastic snack just as they are, or try slicing them and adding to a sandwich or salad. Quartered pickled eggs make a novel addition to a charcuterie platter. Easy to make (no canning required), plus they're a great keto, paleo, or Whole 30 snack!
I grew up with a jar of pickled eggs almost always hiding somewhere in the fridge. I'd watch my dad eat them with gusto as an evening snack while watching T.V. He'd hold a pickled egg in one hand and a hunk of sausage or crusty bread in the other and chow down with a happy smile. Pickled eggs would often be part of the assorted sides offered at the table when we had sandwiches for lunch. I'd try not to show my disgust. (I had the same reaction to canned sardines, another frequent guest at our Saturday lunch table.)
Years later, when I was a young newlywed, I discovered my husband shared the same enjoyment of this pickled oddity as my dad did. I think my husband had developed his predilection for this snack from eating them in the small town pub he partied in during high school. I worked as a waitress in the adjoining restaurant and remember seeing the big gallon jar of pickled eggs and another one of pickled sausages adorning the side of the bar counter whenever I had to deliver platters of food from the restaurant to the bar. I assumed people must have eaten them, because the jars would get emptier and new ones would replace the empty ones in a continuous flow. I knew what pickled eggs tasted like, but have never had a pickled sausage and was never tempted.
Raymond always tackled the pickled egg jar in my mom's fridge with eagerness, so I decided I'd better impress my new husband and start making them for him at home. They weren't hard to make. Over the years I made many jars of pickled eggs, and very occasionally ate a pickled egg myself, too. Something strange gradually happened. Somewhere along the years, the pickled eggs kinda grew on me. I kinda started to not mind them. And then . . . egads . . . I even kinda started to like them!
(And wouldn't you know it, the same thing happened with sardines!)
Now, I actually enjoy a pickled egg, and sometimes it is just the snack to satisfy a craving. I find it really handy to toss a couple pickled eggs, a handful of cut-up veggies, and a few crackers into my lunch bag when heading off to work. They make a very quick and satisfying meal. I love the return on a few minutes of work. A jar of pickled eggs will keep for months in the fridge, and they make a great addition to a packed picnic lunch or bagged lunch because the eggs keep well for hours without being refrigerated. Take a few on your next road trip.
Also, if you're on a ketogenic diet, or eat according to a Paleo or Whole 30 lifestyle, having a jar of pickled eggs in the fridge can be a godsend. You get the protein from the egg with the satisfying sourness of a pickle to help address cravings and leave you feeling satisfied.
For a cool pop of magenta pink colour, you can add a bit of cooked beet to your pickled eggs when you make them. The taste doesn't change much, but the colour is fun. (They'd be great for Easter.)
Years ago I found this recipe in a small printed booklet of Hutterite recipes and it is basically the same recipe as my mom always made. It has been my standard pickled egg recipe for years. Mom never used a recipe. She sometimes added a bit of chili pepper for heat, and she never put sugar into her pickled egg brine. I do not care for the many recipes you find online that have sugar in them. To me, eggs and sugar only go together in desserts. This recipe is just like mom's.
Try them, try them you will see. (Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss)
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A few other ways to use up those extra hard-boiled eggs:
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Kitchen Frau Notes: *If you use large eggs, 12 of them will just fit into a quart jar, but they will be wedged in tightly. Medium eggs will give you a little more wiggle room (I always use large eggs so I get more egg in total.)
Eggs that are at least a few days old will peel easier than really fresh eggs. To hard boil eggs that peel easily: the trick is to steam them (see easy instructions here).
I also make sure to pick the whole cloves out of the pickling spice mix. They have a strong flavour and can turn the brine a brownish colour.
To make Pink Pickled Eggs: Add a few chunks of boiled or roasted beets, or even use canned beets (though the colour won't be quite as deep) to dye your eggs a lovely shade of magenta. The amount of beet you add will affect the final shade of the eggs.
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Adapted from the booklet 'The Hutterian Treasury of Recipes, Traditional German Recipes from the Hutterite Kitchens of North America', by Sam Hofer (no longer in print)
Classic Pickled Eggs
- 2 dozen hard boiled eggs, medium or large size* (see notes, below)
- 3 cups (720ml) white vinegar
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice
- optional - a couple slices from a small boiled red beet per jar for pink pickled eggs
- optional - dried chili flakes, jalapeño slices, or chili pepper to taste, for a bit of zip
- Peel the eggs and divide them into two quart jars. If using beets for pink pickled eggs, cut the beet slices in pieces and fit the pieces into the cracks between the eggs as you fill the jar. If using large eggs, 12 of them should fit in each quart jar, though you may have to gently push them in - three eggs to each layer.
- Pick out the whole cloves from the pickling spice mix and discard them. They can make the brine turn a brownish colour and add a strong clove taste, which can be overpowering.
- Boil the vinegar, water, salt, and pickling spice in a pot for about five minutes, uncovered. Pour this hot brine (hot brine makes more tender whites) over the eggs, dividing it between the two jars, and making sure the pickling spices are divided between the jars, too. Add in any of the chili pepper if you are using it. You should have enough brine to cover both jars, but if you don't, divide the brine between both jars and top them up with boiling water to cover the eggs.
- Let cool. Seal, and refrigerate. Pickled eggs can be eaten after three days, and will continue to get a bit more 'pickled' for up to a week. They will last in the refrigerator for several months.
Cheater's Pickled EggsDon't throw out the brine from a jar of dill pickles or any other kind of pickled vegetables (except sweet pickles). After you've eaten the pickles, pop a few hard boiled eggs into the brine left in the jar. You can add as many eggs as will fit and still be fully covered by brine. Refrigerate them for for a week and you'll have some tasty dill pickled eggs. (Or use the pickle brine for Pickleback Shots.) If you'd like the eggs to be more sour, pour on a bit of vinegar and leave them for a few more days.
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