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What are Pickled Eggs?

By D Frank
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pickled eggs are a popular addition to salads and sandwiches, and there are many people who enjoy eating them on their own or with a cold beer or two. The pickling process preserves the eggs and gives them a tangy flavor, while keeping all of the nutritional value. Essentially, pickled eggs are made by combining boiled, shelled eggs with water, vinegar, salt, and various spices, and then letting the combination pickle in a refrigerator for a period of two days to three weeks. A wide selection of flavors — and colors — can be added to create variety.

There are many recipes for pickled eggs, ranging from the standard mild versions to spicy hot recipes. Pickled eggs are a popular bar food and can sometimes be found sitting in large jars on the counters of many neighborhood taverns throughout the United States. Although the pickling process means that the eggs do not have to be refrigerated, it is not recommended that home pickled eggs be kept at room temperature for an extended period of time due to the risk of botulism.

All pickled egg recipes begin with the boiling of the eggs. Once they've been hard-boiled and cooled, the shells must be removed. Thereafter, a number of items can be mixed together to form the liquid used to pickle and saturate the eggs.

Almost all recipes insist that various amounts of water and vinegar be boiled together to form the base. From there, a number of recipes call for brown sugar, salt, garlic, beet juice, and such similar items that will, when added, form a sweet tasting egg. Those who enjoy the hot variety will add hot chili peppers, cayenne pepper, Tabasco® sauce, mustard seed, and similar spicy items to the vinegar and water. The color of the ingredients will also dye the eggs; using beet juice, for example, will give them a pink or red hue.

Once the liquid base is cooked and prepared, the eggs are placed in a large, sterilized jar, and the liquid is poured over them. There should be enough liquid to completely cover the eggs. The jar is then sealed with a lid and put in the refrigerator immediately.

The eggs will take on the taste of the spices over time. Usually, the eggs will pickle well if they remain sealed in the refrigerator for two days to three weeks. Bigger eggs require will slightly more time to fully develop their flavors. The eggs should be consumed within three or four months; if kept longer than that, they may take on a rubbery feel and taste.

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Discussion Comments
By succulents — On Dec 27, 2009

Only use the beet juice if you don't mind bright pink/red colored pickled eggs! I had a whole batch rejected by the entire house because the color was "gross looking"!

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