by Eleonore Hebal
Eleonore Hebal is the proud owner of Gypsy Moon Bakehaus, a small catering & bakery business that specializes in artisan bread and exotic fare. Prior to relocating to Amherst in 2014, she worked with James Beard nominated chef, Jacob Sessoms, in Asheville, North Carolina. When Eleonore is not busy baking at the Village Hive in downtown Amherst, she can be found alongside Chef Salvatore Friedel in the kitchen of the Green Fountain Inn in Waupaca.
Pickled Beet Eggs
Spring has arrived. Thank goodness. Every April I enjoy collecting eggs with my children at my favorite chicken-lady’s homestead while basking in the sunshine and unending bird-songs. We always find unique ways to decorate them for Easter. This year I aspire to use natural dyes and beeswax … and then, successfully feed all of the eggs to my children by the end of the month. Considering that neither of my sons really care for hard-boiled eggs (and refuse to eat deviled eggs) will make this challenging. Perhaps if I make the preparation process entertaining and the final product strangely beautiful, it will be easier than I expect. Ha! My fingers are crossed.
I found this traditional recipe in Persimmon & Peach: A Culinary and Craft Journal. For generations, Polish grandmothers have kept large jars of red pickled eggs, affectionately known as ‘“red beeters,” in their cupboards. They are also a beloved staple in the Pennsylvania Dutch community. I have a sneaking feeling they will be incorporated into my family’s Easter traditions after this year. I hope your family enjoys this recipe too. Happy Easter!
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 large beet, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup cider vinegar
1 large shallot or small yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
5 cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
1 star anise pod
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
A large jar with a lid (a 3/4-liter jar fits the eggs perfectly, about 25 oz.)
Hard-boil the eggs: Place the eggs in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with two-inches of cold water. Bring just to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 12 minutes before submerging in a bowl of ice water. Peel the eggs, and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Bring two cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce to a simmer. Add the chopped beet, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and continue to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the beets. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Drain, reserving the liquid that the beet cooked in.
In a medium saucepan, combine one cup of the liquid that the beet cooking liquid, vinegar, shallot, garlic, sugar, and spices. (If you're left with less than a cup of liquid after simmering the beet, simply add enough water so that it equals one cup.) Bring all to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for five minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved and the onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. This is your brine.
Once the brine has cooled, place three of the eggs in the jar. Spoon in some of the onions and beets. Add the remaining eggs and spoon in the rest of the onions and beets. Pour in all of the brine. If the eggs aren’t fully covered, add water until they are, and tilt the jar back and forth to mix the water with the brine. Tightly seal the jar and place in the refrigerator. Allow the eggs to pickle for 5 to 7 days to reach their optimal color. Keep refrigerated and use with one month.
Yield: 6 pickled eggs, 1 pickled beet