Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Guest Post: Grat's Amazing Pickled Eggs

I recently saw a post that I felt I just needed to share as widely as possible. My friend Gareth and I share many self-sufficiency and Kickstarter-gadget loves, so when I saw this recipe, and marveled at not only the way it was written but the way it must taste, I knew I needed to get it out there. 

Pickling is an age-old form of food preservation that I have covered before and is an excellent means to make good use of a bumper crop, for trade or tribulation.

Without much further ado, I will bring you (with only minor annotations, added by me) Grat's Amazing Pickled Eggs:

[Or: Breaking Wind, the story of a high-school chemistry teacher who decided to get rich by making obscure home produce.]

This makes 3 dozen eggs, so alter proportions according to your needs. You need 3 dozen of these AT LEAST, right? 3 doz. is the basic unit of pickled eggs, also known as an Eggmouthsplosion. I have, in my gloriously wild past, made 4 Egmsplns at a time. EPIC

You will need:
- A very large sealable jar, or several smaller ones. Enough to hold all this stuff, obviously.
- A trip to the shops because you overestimated the size of the jars you already had.
- 1 small onion, chopped roughly
- Several large sprigs of fresh rosemary [dried is ok, fresh is better]
- 3 dozen eggs, or one Pre-Eggmouthsplosion [Smaller eggs are better if you don't want to wait ages, larger ones are good if you like lots of pickled egg in your mouth all at once which you do.]
- 1 head garlic, loosely chopped
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cloves
- 6 bay leaves
- 2 tsp cardamom pods
- 2 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp whole allspice
- 2 tbsp Tarragon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 tsp salt [I prefer sea salt or rock salt to the refined stuff]
- 6-7 cups White vinegar [You can use apple cider vinegar or some other deluxe kind, but it gets pretty expensive, and all the flavour comes from the other stuff so you only need this for preserving the eggs and for the characteristic bite.]
- 2-3 cups spring or filtered water [Or at least, not Adelaide Tap water]
- Tweezers to get the eggshell out from under your fingernails. It will happen.

First, put the raw chopped onion and 2 of the rosemary sprigs in the jar. You can be fancy and arrange the sprigs up the sides so that it looks all food-artsy on the shelf if you want. I won't judge you.

Next, hard-boil your eggs. However you like to do them. I won't tell you how, if you don't know how to hard boil an egg, google it. Set them aside to cool.
This will take way longer than you expect, but they need to be cool so they're easy to peel, and trust me, after the first dozen eggs you're going to want them to be easy to peel. You *can* leave them in their shells and let the vinegar dissolve them, but that uses up the amazing power of the vinegar on dissolving shells rather than making your eggs taste like explosions, and leaves a gritty silt layer at the bottom of the jar that is just weird.

If you decide to take this easy path, just use vinegar and no water, to make up for the acetic acid lost to eggshell dissolving and your apathy.
So, assuming you peeled all your eggs, plonk them in the jar. Don't pack them tight, just put them in. Unless you want pickled egg-hexagons, which I did once. Because the whites go stiff and hold their shape. You could probably experiment with this bit and make d20-shaped pickled eggs. If so, I want credit for the idea and pics.

Now comes the fun, smelly eye-watering bit. Take everything except the eggs (and the tweezers) and put it in a big pot. Bring it to the boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool to the point where, when you inevitably splash it everywhere, it's just annoying rather than a medical crisis.

Now pour this astringent nectar over the eggs. You can strain off the bits, if you're the kind of person who doesn't like to see what torment their food has been through.
Otherwise, just slop it on in there, seal it up, stick it in your fridge. You can keep it on a shelf out of the sun instead; I've done both, and it doesn't seem to make much difference except to how cold your eggs are when you eat them.

Now wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

No, don't check them after three days, that RUINS EVERYTHING! Why would you do that?!
If you went with small eggs, give it a week, and in the interim fill a spare jar with tears of weakness and desperation as you are obviously ruled by your cravings for delicious vinegary eggs.

If you went with large eggs you are a hero and my champion, so wait two weeks for double the XP and a Pickled Egg Medal.

Once opened, scoff half of them in a few days and then hide the jar and don't look at those hideous yellowish-brown ovoids for a few months. Then get cravings and eat the rest.


If you'd like to get in touch with Gareth, perhaps to spur him to write up more recipes,  you can find him on his Facebook, as Gareth Hodges, or via email.

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