These are some words I originally wrote for Serious Eats, back in the days of my In a Pickle column. As we approach both Passover and Easter, I thought it might be appropriate to share this tale and recipe here, in the hopes that you might be inspired to take some of your hard boiled eggs and tuck them into a jar of beets and brine, for a batch of classic pickled red beet eggs.
I grew up in a household with hippie tendencies. This showed in a number of ways, from the 12-grain bread my mom used for sandwiches, to the jar of homemade granola that made up the bulk of our cereal selection. However, it was never more obvious than around major holidays.
At Halloween, we were the house giving out raisins or tiny tubes of toothpaste. Christmas brought candy canes sweetened with maple syrup. And around Easter, our baskets were filled with carob, fruit juice sweetened jelly beans and naturally dyed eggs.
Instead of pulling out the dyes that the other kids used, my mother would gather onion skins, carrot peelings, spinach leaves and beets for our egg coloring sessions. I found these methods deeply frustrating because they never provided the same depth of color that the commercial egg coloring kits could.
I blame the fact that I was very late to red beet eggs on my frustration with those natural dyes. You see, these pickled eggs get their color through the addition of beets to the pickling liquid. And I just didn’t want to have anything to do with adding beets to eggs.
But then, I had the opportunity to taste one a few years back and I changed my tune. Pickled red beet eggs have nothing in common with the still-in-their-shell hard-boiled eggs I once tried to dye with beet juice.
The finished eggs are bright in both color and flavor. Pickling firms the whites of the hard boiled egg, transforming them into something springy and substantial. The finished eggs are good eaten on their own, or chopped into a vibrantly colored salad and make a terrific addition to any springtime table.
A few tips for you before you get started
To avoid peeling frustration, use the oldest eggs in you fridge for hard boiling. Super fresh eggs are incredibly hard to peel, while the ones that have been around for a week or more will give up their shells more easily.
I used home-canned pickled beets for this recipe. However, don’t feel like you have to make the pickled beets first. Commercially pickled beets do just as good a job here.
Make sure to let the eggs rest in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours before eating the first one. They do keep well for up to a month, so don’t feel like you have to bolt them down once they’re ready.
Pickled Red Beet Eggs
- 8 hardboiled eggs peeled
- 1 cup canned pickled red beets with their liquid
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- Place peeled hard boiled eggs in a quart-sized mason jar (or any other heatproof container of similar size).
- In a medium saucepan, combine pickled beets, apple cider vinegar, water and brown sugar. Heat until it just comes to a boil.
- Place the cinnamon sticks and cloves into the jar with the eggs.
- Carefully pour the pickling liquid and beet slices into the jar with the eggs.
- Tap the jar to help loosen any air bubbles and use a long, skinny spatula to ease out any remaining air bubbles. Place a lid on the jar.
- Once it has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate. Let pickles rest at least 48 hours before eating.
I have some of these I at home, I just pickled them two days ago. Do you think they will be that pretty pink by Easter? I was worried I did it too late in the season.
The picture of the sliced egg was taken when the eggs had only been pickling for 2-3 days. So yours should color up just fine for Easter.
If your eggs are too fresh, steam them instead of boiling. They’ll peel easily. I steam large eggs for about 18 minutes.
Thanks for the tip, Terry!
That was exactly what I was going to say! I steam all my eggs now – SO easy. Here’s my post with specifics: http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2014/07/best-method-for-hard-cooked-eggs.html
And we LOVE pickled red beet eggs around here! I even can any leftover brine from making the pickles, just because that brine is so magic for eggs. It’s funny, I never thought to serve such pretty purple eggs on Easter. Of course!
Any suggestions on how to do this with non-pickled beets? The only beets I pickled this year we’re golden, but I have cooked beets in the fridge right now…
You could increase the amount of vinegar and decrease the amount of water slightly. Maybe go 2/3 cup vinegar and 1/3 cup water, to ensure that you get the amount of pucker necessary.
How long do they keep?
They keep well for about a month (that detail is in the last paragraph of the post, just before the recipe).
I can pickled red beets usually every season and when we want red beet eggs I add cooked, peeled hard boiled eggs to the red beets in a bowl then we have a few meals. oh yum they are good.
We always had pickled eggs & beets on a “nibbles tray” for Easter and sometimes other holiday get togethers. They always look so festive! My husband’s family doesn’t nibble like mine so I miss that tradition some years.
Two days ago I cooked, peeled, and sliced six pounds of red beets. I layered them with 18 hard-cooked eggs into a gallon glass jar, poured a brine over everything, and put it in the refrigerator. I’ll open the jar for Easter supper. Because they keep so well, and in fact get better as they sit, this amount is not too much for my small family. Yum!
I have been pickling beets and eggs for years. In Ohio, it was tradition in my family to have pickled beets and eggs at Easter time. I would make many jars and my kids loved them.
I put cooking oil in my eggs when I cook them and the shell slides off
Have you used the Gingery Pickled Beets that you have posted for these beet eggs?
I always have these on my counter, but today I noticed the gallon jar has developed a mother. Can you tell me what I can use a pickled beet egg mother for? This is the first time this has ever happened to me.
These should be refrigerated as soon as the brine is cool. How long has it been sitting out? I wouldn’t eat that batch.
What is a mother that is mentioned in Tammys reply
It is the culture that forms at the top of a batch of active vinegar.
Sorry to say this did not work at all for me. Color, texture and taste were all off. I followed the recipe exactly, even refrigerating while the mixture was still warm (maybe that was why?). Anyway, glad everyone else seems to have had a better time with it!
Pickling eggs always changes their texture. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t like them!