Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Grandma's Pickled Easter Eggs

Some of my most vivid childhood memories of Easter are not my Easter basket, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks. They are of the vibrant colored eggs in the center of my Grandma's table at Easter dinner.

I loved eggs even then- deviled, pickled red beet, hard-boiled, scrambled, you name it. Unfortunately, I had a mild egg allergy when I was a child. If I ate one, my inner elbows and the backs of my knees would break out into a spotty red rash. It was lovely. Thankfully, I have completely grown out of this.

For me to risk rash, the egg I was about to eat had to be special. And these Easter eggs were. Grandma displayed them in a large glass vase-like bowl that, now that I think about it was probably some kind of liquor decanter (although, to my knowledge, neither my Grandma or Grandpa drank liquor). Anyway, they were so pretty and it was so hard for me to wait for them to be passed around the table. They were tart, tangy and perfect.

This year, we are staying home for Easter. My sister and her family are joining us, as are some neighbors. Guess what is going to be in the center of my table?

Grandma's Pickled Easter Eggs
(make several days in advance)

10 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and rinsed
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
food coloring (at least three colors)

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Divide vinegar mixture between at least three jars with lids, reserving a cup. Add food coloring (6 or 7 drops per color) to jars. Add shelled hard-boiled eggs- several to each jar. Fill jars with reserved vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate for several days before serving. Grandma says they will keep for several months. Mine are not going to last several days.

Eggs, ready to serve Easter Sunday

Our chickens are giving us 10-12 eggs a day now. We supply another family with eggs, but even after that, we tend to build up a surplus now and again. When this happens, Jamey hard-boils eggs so he can take one in his lunch each day or I make deviled (Sam calls them "doubled"- I like this much better) eggs.

You'd think that after all the hard-boiling we do I would have figured out how to shell the eggs without them tearing apart. After a lot of trial and error, I have learned that what works best for me is 1) to keep them in a gentle boil for 20 minutes (less time gives me a softer egg that tears easier), 2) to rinse them in cold water as soon as they are done, then cover them with more cold water and two trays of ice cubes, and 3) wait patiently for at least 10 minutes before cracking them and ever so gently peeling them.

Even this doesn't always work. So, I have two questions for you. First, if you are successful in shelling your hard-boiled eggs, would you share your secret with me? Secondly, the egg recipe above calls for food coloring- do you have any natural dye substitution ideas that I could use in this recipe?

For your kind advice, I give you flowers.

Grape Hyacinths at our back door
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  1. Yellow onion skins give a dark red egg color - a little Greek Easter tradition for ya!

  2. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing the pickled egg recipe! When I was little I had a friend whose mom was into all natural all natural way of life...and I didn't get it then. I thought it was weird actually. NOW I understand! But...she would often have a huge jar of eggs floating in what looked like pickled beet juice to me. And as a matter of may have been the juice leftover from homemade pickled beets. (Which would also provide natural color). Yellow Onion skins are a good natural dye as well. I am SO making pickled eggs..thanks again!

  3. Oh...and as far as peelable eggs? I place the eggs in the pan and cover them with water plus an inch or so. Then I add a generous amount of SALT. I learned this from Patti LaBelle years ago when she was a guest on Oprah. I set the heat on high and then as soon as the water comes to a rapid boil I set the timer for 5 minutes. When they're done boiling I immediately run them under cold water and let them cool thoroughly. This really helps with the egg peeling challenge!

  4. Thanks for the tips, ladies. Michelle, these are very different from pickled red beet eggs. They are more sour. Pickled red beet eggs are made by placing shelled hard-boiled eggs into the pickled beet liquid (you were right!)and letting them sit for a couple days. Here is the link to the pickled beet recipe I use. Happy pickling!

  5. I also have the problem of eggs that don't peel. Farm fresh eggs won't peel right no matter what you do unless you do a few of these steps. The most important thing is they have to be washed thoroughly (there is a protective coating fresh from the chicken that must come off)in sudsy water and they must be at least a week old, 2 or 3 is better. Than I bring them to room temp and with a straight pin prick the rounded end just through the shell into the air bubble (this my mom always did. Don't know if it makes a difference or not) before placing in a single layer in a kettle. Cover with cold water to 1 inch above the eggs. Bring to a full boil (stir them around in the kettle one time as they are heating but before they boil to keep the yolk from settling to one side. After they are at a full boil, DO NOT lift the lid! Off the heat and set aside if using electric. Let set 10-13 min depending on the size. Than lift the lid and with a slotted spoon immediately place them in a pan of ice water. The fast chilling and gentle cooking eliminates the gray ring around the yolk. After they are fully chilled crack thoroughly all over and starting at the rounded end using the side of your thumb the shells should peel off nicely.
    This sounds like a lot of steps but results in a tender, very attractive hard boiled egg.


  6. Here's more on eggs:

    I have three jars of eggs in my fridge now---yellow, red, and green. Sweetsie keeps sticking her head in the fridge to check on them, and now she's started obsessively asking me how many more days till Easter.

  7. About the natural food dyes. I don't have any ideas for the same exact colors but did you ever try Mustard Eggs? Very yellow!

    1 doz hard boiled eggs. Place in a 2 qt jar and pour the following sauce over. Allow to marinate 3 days. Shake jar occasionally.

    Whisk together til sugar is dissolved:
    1 1/2 c cider vinegar
    2 T dry mustard powder
    1 T garlic powder
    1 T onion powder
    1 c sugar
    1 1/2 t salt
    1/2 c water


  8. Valerie, thanks. I will have to try these. I assume the eggs are shelled?

  9. Sorry I missed that detail. Yes they are shelled. I should have also noted that the extra 1/2 c water was my addition to the original recipe. It's been a long time since I've made these. This post reminded me of them. I think I'll use the kids painted eggs to make a batch.


  10. We had your eggs today at lunch and they were delicious! The Baby Nickel loved them, but the other kids didn't---all the adults did, though. They are similar to Val's mustard eggs (I make them occasionally), but maybe a little sharper. I think they'd be a good way to make and store boiled eggs (I'd leave out the food coloring for everyday use) and then they could be chopped up for eggs salad or turned into deviled eggs...

  11. I boil eggs for 5 minutes as Michelle mentioned above. And here's something I tried once and found successful. After the eggs are cooked, remove and cover quickly with cold water. This water will warm up from the eggs, so after a half minute I dump the water. Then shake the eggs in the pan to cause them to crackle. Then add a second batch of cold water and finish cooling. These were store eggs and were not fresh. Fresh eggs may be more difficult to peel.

  12. You've probably figures this out by now but it took me a while to learn this trick as well and the eggs just roll out of their shells practically. First set you eggs out on the counter so that they warm up a little while you bring your pot of water to a full boil. Then with a slotted spoon carefully lower the eggs in one by one. When water returns to a boil time it for 15 minutes. Drain water in sink and fill with cold tap water. When cool enough to handle peel eggs and refrigerate. My husband loves hard boiled eggs and I can't believe it took me 20 years to figure this out.


Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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