Gorgeous colors and pleasant, slightly tart taste make pickled eggs and beets one of the favorite spring classics. Not only pickled eggs taste great, they add good nutrition and nice variety to your meals.
Serve pickled eggs plain, quartered or sliced, alone, or with pickled beets as an appetizer. Use as garnishes with a green salad. Make deviled eggs with pickled and regular hard-cooked eggs and serve on the same plate with pickled beets for color effects.
To make pickled eggs you first boil the eggs, and then immerse them (peeling is optional) in a solution of vinegar, salt, spices, and often a coloring, like beet juice, for 1 to 3 weeks. During that time the vinegar's acetic acid dissolves much of the shell's calcium carbonate, penetrates the eggs, and lowers their pH sufficiently to prevent the growth of spoilage microbes.
Pickled eggs can be eaten shell -- or its remains -- and all. In addition to being tart, they are firmer than freshly boiled eggs; the whites may become somewhat rubbery.
To give the whites more tender texture, have the pickling liquid at the boil when the eggs are immersed, and include sufficient salt in the recipe.
Pickled eggs and beets should be stored in the cold to prevent the swollen yolks and split whites (the result of the eggs absorbing the pickling liquid too rapidly).
To select eggs for pickling chose eggs with clean perfect shells. Eggs should be very fresh, although a few days old egg will peel better. Use small to medium eggs for pickling. You can also use quail eggs.
How to cook eggs
(This method was published by Georgia Egg Commission in 2005)
Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan. Cover eggs completely with cold water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
Turn off the heat and let eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes for medium eggs (adjust the time up or down by 3 minutes for a smaller or larger size).
Cool the eggs immediately by running cold water over them, or transfer to a bowl with ice water. This will prevent the yolk from becoming dark on the surface.
Place eggs in a saucepan. Bring water to boil and simmer eggs for 8-10 minutes on low heat. As in the first method, cool immediately and peel.
Always cook eggs at moderate temperatures since overcooking makes them tough and can cause gray discoloration around the yolk.
For easier peeling, crack the entire shell around the egg, roll lightly between your palms, and peel under a thin stream of cold water.
How to pickle eggs
Place a dozen or so medium-sized hard-cooked eggs loosely in a quart glass jar (or other non-reactive container) so the container will hold enough of pickling solution. Any container that can be close tightly is suitable.
Pour the hot pickling solution over the eggs, cover the container and put it into the refrigerator making sure that the eggs are covered with the pickling solution during storage. When the pickling solution has seasoned all part of the egg, that takes at least one week for small and from two to three weeks for medium and large eggs, they are ready for serving.
Pickled eggs will hold in the refrigerator for several months.
Meanwhile, trim the leaves from beets, leaving about 1 inch of stems attached. Scrub beets gently under cold running water. Place in large saucepan, add cold water enough to cover; heat to boiling and simmer over medium-low heat until beets are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, reserving one cup beets cooking liquid.
Plunge the beets into cold water, and peel while they are still warm. Cut into ¼-inch-thick slices.
Place whole eggs in wide-mouth jar and layer sliced beets on top. In non-reactive saucepan combine vinegar, sugar and reserved beet cooking liquid; bring to boiling over high heat. Pour vinegar mixture over eggs and beets. Set aside to cool. For even color, gently shake the jar occasionally or turn eggs with spoon gently. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week before serving.