by Jennifer Sartell
Photos by author
Zach and I were married a couple years ago and we honeymooned along the East Coast. One of the most delicious places we visited was Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lancaster is one of the largest Amish settlements in the country. And my-oh-my is the food amazing! Everywhere you go there is some sort of hearty, home-cooked, buffet or family-style restaurant wafting mouthwatering smells out its door. And the food is hearty, plentiful, sticks to your ribs, Grandma’s Sunday Crock-Pot, gravy soaked, slow roasted, crispy fried, carb laden-ed, warm cozy, fuzzy kittens sorts of food. It was here that I tasted my first pickled egg.
Had someone randomly handed me a bright-pink pickled egg and said, “Here, eat this,” I would have politely placed it back in the jar and told them to take their alien, fuchsia, vinegar-smelling egg to the next wide-eyed schmuck. But because the first pickled egg I ever had came from this food paradise, utopia, garden of Eden called Lancaster, I thought why not, everything else tastes like heaven.
Pickled eggs are the perfect picnic food. Their beet counterpart layers the mason jar so beautifully it looks like a red-and-white checkered table cloth. The eggs are tangy, sweet and spicy, with hints of clove and cinnamon. To make them, you’ll need:
- 1 large beet
- 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Spices (a scant palmful of each of the spices listed below)
- 1/2 large sweet onion
- 6 farm-fresh eggs, hard-boiled
- 1 quart mason jar
- Star anise
- Mustard seed
- Black peppercorn
- Red chili flakes
- Caraway seeds
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 1 bay leaf
The spices are where you can really make the pickled eggs your own. This list is my favorite blend; it has a clove-y “sweet gherkin” or “bread and butter pickle”-type flavor. But you could use lots of things, such as dill and garlic, curry, or jalapenos and extra red chili flakes (to spice things up a bit). I like to use whole spices because they look pretty in the jar.
Start by washing your beet well. Trim the top, leaving about 1 inch of the leaf stems. This will help with the peeling process later and will help the beet from bleeding into the cooking water. You want to keep all that beautiful red juice to make the eggs pretty.
Boil the beet for about 30 minutes or until tender to the tip of a knife. Peel the beet running it under cold water, rubbing it with your thumbs. The stem will help get the skin started. Slice the beet into wedges.
In a pan simmer the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, spices and sliced beet until the sugar dissolves.
Cut up half the onion into thin slices.
Layer your jar with 3 eggs; half the raw onion slices; then the beet slices, strained out with a slotted spoon; the rest of the onions; and the final 3 eggs. Pour the pink pickling liquid over the top, making sure to cover the eggs completely. Store in the refrigerator for a few days before eating. (The eggs need to soak up all that delicious brine!)
Visit our website Iron Oak Farm to see what else we’re cooking up.