Quick & Easy Pickled Eggs

The words “pickled” and “egg” don’t seem like they should belong together. For me, pickled anything was supposed to exist exclusively in the world of plant material and never cross over to anywhere else. I might have been wrong about that.

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There are a couple of ways in which foods can be pickled. One method is to use an acid, usually in the form of vinegar, to preserve food by lowering the pH and preventing spoilage. The pickling solution might also contain seasonings, salt, and sugar to add to the flavor. Chances are good this is the kind of pickling you’re familiar with. Another way is with a strong brine solution made with salt and water. This creates a favorable environment for desirable microbes to do lactic acid fermentation, which also lowers the pH and preserves foods. All this is great with various fruits and veggies, but eggs? Really?

Short answer: yes. The pickling process infuses hard boiled eggs with a lot of flavor and creates an environment where they can be safely stored in the refrigerator for longer periods of time. The process I have here has an added bonus of using the leftover liquids from other pickled vegetables, so it’s a completely no-waste recipe. You can use whatever you’d like, as long as it had an acidic base like vinegar. The flavors from the vegetables that had been in the brine before (think cucumbers, peppers, etc) are now being absorbed by the eggs, and that’s a good thing.

Once the eggs have had a chance to sit in the pickling liquid for a few days, they are ready to eat. The longer they sit, the more flavorful they become. They will be great as-is, but don’t hesitate to add them to any other recipe that calls for hard boiled eggs. We love them in egg salad spread on crackers or toast. A delicious treat, indeed!

Some quick notes before you begin:

THESE EGGS ARE NOT SHELF-STABLE. I can’t emphasize this enough. Because you are using leftover pickle juice, you do not know if you have a low enough pH for safe storage outside of the refrigerator. Yes, eggs can be pickled safely for pantry storage (despite what a lot of sources would have you believe) but this is NOT that kind of recipe. Keep these refrigerated.

Be sure to use eggs that have been boiled long enough to have a firm yolk in order to ensure that the eggs stay intact in the jar. I have a great process for using a pressure cooker to cook eggs where the shells just slide right off! Check it out here.

For best quality and safety, use eggs that have the white part intact. If the white splits or cracks to the point where the yolk is exposed while you are removing the shells, it is best just to eat that egg right away. The acid and cold temperatures will be enough to preserve the eggs from any spoilage coming from the surface of the egg, but it will be harder to ensure that safety if there was possible contamination getting pushed in.

How long they last in the refrigerator will depend on a variety of factors, but they should be fine for at least a few weeks. Just remember, the end goal is to eat them, not keep them forever!

Though any jar with a good lid can be used, I have found that I can fit a perfect dozen large sized chicken eggs (the typical size sold at grocery stores here in the U.S.) in a quart sized, wide-mouth, canning jar, and six can fit into a wide-mouth, pint sized jar. You will want a jar with a wide opening, no matter what, in order to easily remove the eggs from the jar.

Be sure to use the liquid from vegetables that were pickled in an acidic brine. Commercially prepared pickled vegetables, cucumbers, pepperoncinis, capers, etc. are all good candidates. Check the labels and you should see vinegar as one of the primary ingredients. You can also use homemade pickles, too, if you had them in a vinegar solution.

Though the eggs are technically ready to eat after a day, give them some time. The longer the eggs have a chance to infuse and absorb flavor from the liquid, the better they will be. For the best flavor, give them at least a week.

You will notice that the texture of the eggs will change as they sit in the pickling liquid. Water from the egg whites will be drawn out as substances in the liquid is drawn in. The eggs will become more firm as a result. This is fine. You will also see a change in color of the egg whites for the same reason.

Quick & Easy Pickled Eggs Recipe

  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
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Ingredients

Directions

Prepare your eggs and be sure to allow them to cool. Remove the shells carefully to avoid damaging the egg whites. Any split eggs should just be eaten, as-is.

Place the eggs into your jar. I have each layer of eggs pointing in the same direction, but each layer alternates which direction they are pointing (one layer will be pointed clockwise, the next will be pointed counter clockwise). See the pictures for further clarity. This allows for the eggs to fit better in the jar. It is okay for the eggs to be tightly packed, as long as they don’t become damaged and will be covered by the brine. They will shrink a little over time.

Ladle the brine over the eggs. Do this slowly to avoid creating too many air pockets. If there are seasonings in your brine, be sure to stir it up as you scoop the brine so as to evenly distribute the spices into your jars of eggs. Give the jars a gentle shake or tap to help remove any bubbles that may have formed, then top off the liquid as needed to cover the eggs completely. Do NOT try to remove the bubbles with a knife or spatula as that may damage the egg whites and cause spoilage to occur. Close the jars and place in the refrigerator.

The eggs will be best if allowed to sit in the brine for at least a week, though they will have picked up some flavor even after a few hours. Be patient! The extra wait is really worth it. The eggs will last several weeks, but it is best to use them within a couple of months. If you suspect any spoilage, don’t hesitate to toss them.

I do not recommend using the brine again. By now the acidity and salt levels are too low for safely preserving anything else. The brine will be more diluted from moisture leaving the eggs, and by the eggs absorbing the salt and acid. The brine will taste a bit like egg, too, and not really in a good way. However, I have been adding my brine to my compost pile. Any salt will be minimal so it shouldn’t cause problems in my garden. Enjoy!

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