Seasonal Flavors: Pickled Easter Eggs

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Easter is celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon in Spring; this year on March 31. Growing up in western Pennsylvania, my family and everyone we knew always made pickled eggs and beets at this time of year. One of our neighbors insisted that the recipe is intended as a way of using up the leftover Easter eggs, but at our house, that jar of beautiful purple orbs had to be ready on Easter morning.

Of course you’ll want to use local eggs in this recipe. If you don’t have your own little flock of chickens (and if you don’t, why don’t you?), then ask your neighbors or get them from a local producer. Mission Home sells their eggs at the Crozet Great Valu and the Free Union Grass Farm www.freeuniongrassfarm.com raises pastured hens that lay rich and wonderful eggs. Remember that hard-boiled eggs will peel easier if the egg is a couple of weeks old (not a problem if you buy commercial eggs). So I usually start hoarding a few dozen, three weeks before Easter.

I planted a row of beets last fall, just to see if I could get a head start on this year’s growing season. But usually my beets aren’t ready at Easter, so I’m forced to use the canned, small whole beets.

You’ll need a two quart canning jar—or any large jar will do for this recipe. If you want these for Easter, prepare them on Good Friday so they have two days to complete the pickling.

Pickled Eggs and Beets

  • One dozen hard-boiled eggs
  • 3 cans of small, whole beets, (or about 18 small, cooked beets from your garden)
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp whole cloves

Prepare the pickling by bringing the vinegar and sugar to a boil to dissolve the sugar and then add the cloves. Turn off and allow to cool.

Drain the beets and conserve the liquid separately. Peel the eggs.

Put four eggs in the jar, then one can of the drained beets, then four more eggs and the second can of beets, then the final four eggs and the last can of beets. Pour the pickling juice over the eggs and beets. If you need more liquid to cover, use the conserved beet juice. Put the lid on the jar and leave at room temperature till Easter (two days is best). Yes, you can leave this out on the kitchen counter because the acidity of the vinegar and the high sugar content prevent bacterial growth. If you’re really worried about this, by all means refrigerate!

Use a slotted spoon to drain the liquid and serve in your prettiest glass dish.  This recipe is a wonderful complement to ham or lamb and keeps for weeks.

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