Friday, 1 August 2014

Recipe: Pickled Pink

An online search for ‘pickled eggs Ireland’ you will get a fair few comments on blogs and recipe websites mentioning how they are one of the staple provisions in Irish cupboards and that many pubs sell them still. Admittedly most of these comments are made by people who have never set foot in the country or are confusing trips to Ireland and the UK into one flawed memory perhaps...

Because I never remember them in shops here, or in pubs. Maybe I grew up in a pickled egg free zone? Maybe the people of Laois/Carlow were against the idea for some reason? Perhaps there was a shortage of vinegar? Was it because we were in some sort of chicken heartland where eggs were aplenty so no need to preserve them? I’m not sure…

My first encounter with pickled eggs was - as with pork scratching - in England a decade or more back when I came across them in a pub somewhere, and I remember thinking they were ok… Not spectacular or good, just ok. (Although wherever it was I do remember them being fished out of a large jar by a brute of a man with hairy fingers and a surly demeanour, then plonked on a piece of toilet roll on the bar - I really frequented classy places back then. )

I came across them again a year ago when searching online for snacks to go with beer for a tasting night I was organising. Many of the recipes I tried were from US based sites, as just like beer, they seem to be more experimental with flavours and additions. I’ve made a good few different types and tweaked them over the last year but my favourite and those of my guests is one that includes beetroot.

So, here it is.

You will need:
10-12 Eggs – I use small or medium size
250ml of clear malt vinegar
250ml of drained liquid from 670g jar of baby beets
1 Tablespoon each of salt, sugar and black peppercorns
3-5 baby beets from the jar
1 large jar (I use an empty 950g olive jar)

What to do:
Boil eggs for 10 mins and leave them sitting in hot water for a further 10 mins, then place in cold water for 15 mins.

While waiting on the eggs to cool sterilise the jar and lid. I do this by washing them in hot water, rinsing well, then pour boiling water in to the jar and put the lid in a bowl with more boiling water. (Warning: It has been suggested that the glass might crack by doing this so choose whatever way to sterilise that you feel is safe.)

Add the vinegar, drained liquid from beetroot jar, salt, sugar and pepper to a saucepan, then bring to the boil to dissolve sugar and salt. Add beets to boiling water and leave simmering gently.
Carefully empty the water from the jar, peel the eggs and fill the jar - placing beetroots from the saucepan between each layer. When you’ve added all the eggs (Don’t pack too tight or they’ll stick together), fill the jar with the simmering liquid including peppercorns.

Carefully place the lid on and tighten. As the jar cools the lid will de-press and seal the contents. Rotate the jar as it cools to stop the eggs from sticking together.

Store in the fridge until you need them. I find that the beet flavour – and pink colour – starts to travel into the eggs after about 3 days and that they are at their best in about a week or so. Even when opened I have found that they are fine for up to 10 days, which is as long as they have ever lasted in my house – just keep them in the fridge. They do pong a little when you open the jar but that’s normal… I think!

Give them a shot. They are a little sweet and not too vinegary so they go well with most beers but adjust the recipe to suit your palate. I serve them with just a little salt.

Maybe they will start appearing in homes and pubs around the country!

(There’s a lot of discussions on various websites about sterilising and storage but this is what works for me with no issues so far. But I’m not a trained food handler so use your own knowledge and common sense.)

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