Pickled Eggs

October 29th, 2014 Sections: Food and Drink
A jar of Pickled Eggs

A jar of Pickled Eggs

The other day, I had a visitor – the mother of an old friend.  After we had spent some time in small talk, chatting about this and that, and just as she was about to take her leave she mentioned the reason for her visit.

“Ian, do you remember those marinoveni eggs”, (pickled eggs),  ” that you made? … Can you give me the recipe?”

I was somewhat taken aback … I was being asked for a recipe!  That doesn’t happen very very often – but it’s not all that unusual.  Usually I am asked about typical dishes of English Cuisine.

Yes, you did read that right – English cuisine – we are not particularly well known for our cuisine, which tends to be – like Kyrgyz cuisine – plain and simple, although we have adopted and adapted many dishes from all around the world.

I am not a particularly talented chef and I don’t have a repository of secret recipes passed down through the family from generation to generation but I know enough to produce some of the basic dishes.

What I find so surprising on this occasion was that it was about this was the choice of dish – pickles.

Here they pickle just about everything … such as gherkins, tomatoes, fish, cabbages, peppers, mushrooms and even walnuts … and most housewives know how to do this – especially those in the country, but also in the cities.  If the family have a dacha then the have a source of produce, but if they don’t then they buy large quantities in the bazaar and settle down to an period of preparation.

Back in Britain, many people seem to have forgotten the art of preserves … it’s easier to pop down to the shop and buy a jar than to go through all the trouble of preparation.  The pickles have a consistency in quality and taste; a jar is unlikely to spoil and they also last longer once the jar has opened.

In my youth I used to enjoy pickled onions … and the occasional pickled egg.  Unfortunately, neither of them are available here … although I have sometimes found a jar of pickled onions – but they tend to be imported and of the small and dainty “cocktail onion” variety.

A few years ago an English friend was about to go back to Britain for a holiday and asked if he could bring me something back on his return.  As we chatted, I m happened to mention my youthful penchant for pickled onions and eggs and he looked surprised … “Surely you could make some yourself”, he said.  As it happens, the onions here tend to be small and sweeter – lacking the sharpness so they probably wouldn’t be suitable for pickling … but eggs are eggs.

So I went out and bought several dozen eggs, and several liters of vinegar – and some jars.  I boiled the eggs and left them to cool before shelling them and putting them into the jars – covering them with the vinegar and adding some spices … then sealing the jar and letting it stand in the refrigerator – at least a day, preferably three but no more than a week.

I explained that pickling eggs is, in fact very similar to pickling almost any produce … as she already pickled many of the fruit and vegetables grown in her own garden, she probably knew better than I what to do.

Instead of using vinegar it is possible to use a brine … the choice of vinegar and spices can vary and the taste will also vary according to what is are used.  Taste, of course is a very personal thing and if she experimented then she might find a combination which she preferred.

It is important that the eggs are well cooked – so they should be boiled for longer than usual for hard boiled – for example for breakfast, sandwiches or a picnic – say between 10 and 15 minutes.  Also, any that crack during the cooking should be discarded, or eaten straight away – for example in sandwiches.  Preferably slightly older eggs are preferable – not fresh eggs … they are easier to peel.  Once they have been cooked, then allow them to cool then drain off water and cover with cold water, adding ice and letting them stand for another 15 minutes – this makes the egg inside the shell shrink away from the shell and makes easier to peel away the shell.

There is a recipe where the shelled hard boiled eggs are boiled once more in a brine together with beetroot and the colour is absorbed by the eggs which become pink or even bright red.

Back in Britain, large jars of pickled eggs are often associated with Fish and Chip shops … and they may stand for a lot longer than just a week.  The reason is that they are a specially sealed and have preservative chemicals added.  Home made pickled eggs, however, have been known to cause food poisoning and so this method of preserving the eggs is not necessarily good for long term storage.  What is more, the longer the eggs remain in the vinegar, they become more leathery

Because they had never seen pickled eggs before, many of friends and acquaintances were very anxious to try them, (as I said, pickles are very popular here. so that was understandable).  To be frank, although some were impressed and wondered why they had never thought of doing the same, not everyone was impressed.  That was also understandable.  Pickled eggs are, after all, an acquired taste.

So, to have been asked for the recipe was even more surprising – although very flattering.


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