Anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while might have noticed that I have a fondness for pickled eggs. This is my latest version and, for those who like a more gentle pickle, which includes me these days – our palates change as we get older – these are perfect.
You need hard-boiled eggs (place in cold water and bring to the boil, set the timer for 8 minutes from the time the water boils – any longer will toughen the whites – pierce the big end first to prevent cracking**), how many will depend on the size of the container(s), and the fresher they are, the more easily and cleanly they can be peeled, so if you get your eggs from a supermarket, look for the longest-dated you can find, and use them immediately.
**I’m increasingly seeing eggs with both ends the same – what’s going on here?
After 8 minutes, drain the eggs, toss them gently in the pan to crack the shells (this allows water in and makes them easier to peel), then fill the pan with cold water and leave under a gently-running tap until cold.
To pickle them (actual quantities, again, depend on the size of the container, which needs to be filled to the brim as, initially, some eggs will float to the top, so you need the lid to keep them submerged), you need 20% balsamic vinegar to 80% cider vinegar (I always use Aspall Cyder Vinegar, simply because it’s excellent); use your favourite supermarket balsamic, you don’t need anything fancy for this. The sweetness of the balsamic complements the cider vinegar beautifully.
To hold the eggs use a wide-mouthed jar – makes it easy to get them out again. I use PET jars that once held bottled fruit. To sterilise the jars, use sodium metabisulphite (from homebrew stores), or Campden Tablets – same stuff in tablet form and easier to use. I got mine from Amazon**. Do NOT breathe the fumes, especially if you’re asthmatic.
**Check prices carefully – this stuff is dirt cheap so don’t pay more than a couple of quid.
To the vinegar you add (for up to a dozen eggs):-
1 teaspoon of mustard seed (per jar if you use more than one)
A pinch of salt (ditto)
Peel the eggs, dry them on kitchen towel if they’re wet, and place them gently in the jar (don’t drop them in, they might split), until they reach the top. Don’t pack them tightly.
Add the mustard seed and salt.
NB: I’ve tried everything from traditional pickling spice to dried chillies – mustard seed and a little salt gives the best results – you want just a hint of heat. Well, I do, anyway.
Then pour in the balsamic vinegar – judge the 20% by eye, you don’t need to be obsessively precise – top up to the brim with cider vinegar, cap tightly and refrigerate, shaking the jar gently a couple of times a day for the first few days, to encourage the eggs to become evenly coloured (if they press up against the sides, or each other, white patches will remain – no big deal, I suppose – they just look better if evenly coloured).
They’ll be ready to eat after 3-4 days, becoming more strongly flavoured the longer you leave them. The longest I’ve kept mine for has been 6 months, and they were fine.
To serve, quarter them, and season with salt and white pepper (white pepper is traditional).
I tried one of mine last night, and it was so good I promptly had a second – this is, by some margin, my best batch yet. The balsamic vinegar’s sweetness works perfectly with the cider vinegar, with just a little mustard heat coming through.
They will, I’m sure, make a fantastic egg mayo sandwich, completely blowing away the usual blandness.
My next job, then, is to get some more jars, and make a bigger batch, because these just aren’t going to last very long.