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~ Pretty in Pink: Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Eggs ~

6a0120a8551282970b01901ee05043970b-1Pickling isn't just for cucumbers.  Pickling is a process that dates back to medieval times and was used as a means to preserve all types of food.  Without refrigeration, food spoiled quickly and pickling was a means of preserving it for out-of-season use or transporting it for a long journey. The word "pickle" comes from the Dutch (German) word "pekel", which means "brine", and a brine is nothing more than a mixture of vinegar, water, salt, sometimes sugar and/or spices.  Depending on the brining solution, pickled foods can take on all sorts of colors and flavors:  Pickled foods can be sweet, sour or spicy, as well as subtly-flavored with herbs such as dill or thyme.

315EM295STL._SL500_AA300_ When I was growing up, the women in our family pickled a vegetable mixture called "chow-chow".  Chow-chow is a mustard-flavored, mixed-vegetable-and-pickle relish, which I acquired a love for as I got older.  A lot of different types of  garden vegetables can be used to make chow-chow, but my mom and grandmother stuck to crunchy ones like blanched carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers and green beans.  Nowadays, my mom buys chow-chow and it's no surprise that she chooses Wos-Wit.  All of their products are made on a family farm in Schuylkill County, PA, which is where my parents live and where I grew up.  Notice the label?  It says "Pennsylvania Dutch".  I'm here to make it clear that Pennsylvania Dutch cookery does not belong solely to PA and it is not Dutch either.  The term "Dutch" is slang for the German word "Deutsch". So: When we say Pennsylvania Dutch, we mean Pennsylvania Deutsch and are crediting the Germanic or German-speaking people for this delicious cuisine.  Read on:

IMG_1219The other thing my family and I pickle are eggs and I absolutely adore these.  There are a lot of recipes for pickled eggs, but the ones we make and I love are the Pennsylvania Dutch version, which are sometimes called pickled-beet eggs or red-beet eggs.  In our Eastern European family, my mom and grandmother serve/served them once a year as a side-dish for the Easter holiday.  But, in our local German community, pickled eggs were/are a very popular tavern food and are commonly found sitting in large jars on bar tops next to the beer taps all over Pennsylvania... which makes them a perfect knosh to serve for this week's Oktoberfest celebration.  It takes 3-4 days for them to turn pink so, let's get started:

PICT0902For the pickled eggs:

1  dozen extra-large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled

1  14 1/2-ounce jar small, whole red beets or sliced red beets, not pickled red beets

3/4  cup beet juice, reserved from above jar

3/4  cup white wine vinegar

1/2  cup firmly-packed light-brown sugar

1  teaspoon sea salt


PICT0915~ Step 1.  Hard-cook and peel the eggs.  To read my recipe for ~ A Little Thing Called: Boiling Eggs ~, click into Category 15.

 ~ Step 2.  Drain the beets and set them aside.  Place 3/4 cup of the beet juice into a 1 1/2-2-quart saucepan along with the wine vinegar, light brown sugar and salt. If you are shy of 3/4 cup of beet juice, just make up the difference with water.  Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring almost constantly.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool about 30 minutes.

PICT0923 ~ Step 3.  In a 1-quart, wide-mouth canning jar, layer, place and alternate the eggs and the red beets.

PICT0929 Pour the still slightly warm brine mixture over the  top of the eggs and beets, stopping when the jar is filled to capacity. You might have a bit of brine leftover, which can be discarded.





~ Step 4.  Seal the jar and refrigerate for 24-48 hours or longer (up to six weeks).  The pickled eggs in the the next picture have been in my refrigerator for 4 days:


The pickled eggs are ready to slice and eat, but I have an added treat for you:

If you like deviled eggs, you can make Pickled-Deviled Eggs and they are ohhh sooo good.  Here is all you need to do:

PICT1288 ~ Step 1.  Slice the pickled eggs in half.  Place the pickled egg yolks in the work bowl of a food processor that has been fitted with the steel blade. Arrange the pickled egg "whites" on a serving platter.  Add:

2  tablespoons minced, fresh dill

1/4  teaspoon (heaping) each:  sea salt and white pepper

3/4  cup mayonnaise

24 large capers, for garnish (optional)

Note: DO NOT be inclined to enhance this deviled-egg filling with Dijon mustard!  The pickled eggs have already taken on the oh-so-wonderful, tangy flavor of the brine!  You're good to go!

PICT1290 ~ Step 2.  Process with several rapid on-off pulses, then turn the motor on and process until the mixture is smooth, about 15-20 seconds.

PICT1297 Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag that has been fitted with a small star tip (or tip of choice).

~ Step 3.  Twist the pastry bag closed at the top and decoratively fill the empty egg "white" shells, forming a mound as you work towards the centers.  Garnish each pickled-deviled egg with a caper.  Place 5-6 toothpicks in 5-6 eggs, spaced randomly but well apart, to support a "tent" of plastic wrap to cover the eggs. Refrigerate 1-2 hours, or overnight.  Serve chilled:

PICT1307 Pretty in Pink:  Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Eggs:  Recipe makes 1 dozen pickled eggs/24 deviled-egg appetizers.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container; 1 1/2-2-quart saucepan; 1-quart, wide-mouth canning jar w/lid; food processor (optional); 10" Ateco #3118 pastry bag fitted w/small star tip (optional)

PICT1051 Cook's Note:  Besides a big 'ole stein of beer, serve pickled eggs alongside  ~ Kielbasa: The "Other" Oktoberfest Sausage ~.  Find that recipe in Categories 1, 11 or 12! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


Darrell -- You make a very good point. In Step 4, I do instruct to seal the jar and store in the refrigerator, and, assumed that home cooks know to keep pickled eggs and deviled eggs stored in the refrigerator. I will ament the post to be more specific. Thank-you. ~ Melanie

You should add that it is necessary to store home pickled eggs in the refrigerator for safety.
Pickled eggs were assumed to be safe in the past while pickled and stored at room temperature.
In 1997 there was a case of botulism tied to home pickled eggs using commercially prepared beets stored on the counter at room temperature.
HERE >>>>
There are no tested recipes for safe shelf stable storage of home pickled eggs. Store yours in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 months.

Penny -- nice to hear from you and thanks for the nice words about my site. The best way I can explain it is: I always make them at least 3-4 days in advance. This produces nice-looking pink perimeters, and, a bit of white before the yellow yolk. The longer they soak, the white center slowly turns light pink, then dark pink as the color soaks its way to the yolk. That said, pickled eggs, stored in the refrigerator, keep well for 2+ weeks -- they get deeper red in color, are super-delicious and completely safe to eat!

If you need to make them now for later - is
there a time limit on the number of days you would let me soak? I just discovered your site and like it very much.

Marilyn! You and I are once again on the same page -- I just bought the beets yesterday!

Mel ~ making these tomorrow for a lunch on Thursday...and of course for Easter Sunday, too! I think, these are one of the best things about Easter!

I bought the beets the day i made them and kept the eggs in the refrigerator for .3 days. I think the problem is with the brand of beets I used. The eggs taste and look okay, but I really would rather the violet color! This did not happen last year, but for some reason the three stores I frequent,
had only Aunt Nellie's. I am now on a mission! Thanks for confirming that I was following the recipe. You have never steered me wrong!

Marilyn! I am not familiar with Aunt Nellie's beets. The store-bought beets I use are deep-red in color, but: I never keep beets stored in my pantry, because they lose there intense color quite quickly (within a few months). I buy them ONLY when I'm ready to use them. The recipe is correct, "NOT pickled red beets", and, my pickled eggs were in the refrigerator for 4 days. PLEASE get back to me and let me know if this makes sense to you.

Hi Mel! Help! I have made three batches of these for Easter For some reason,they are coming out more of a mauve pink in color. Pretty, but not that luxurious violet.
I am using Aunt Nellie's beets and they seem too light red in color. Am I correct in getting those without vinegar, or pickled?Happy Easter and thanks for your help!

Deb I work very hard and very long hours. Kitchen Encounters is a labor of love! Your words are music to my ears!!! Thanks so much for the lovely comment!!! ~ Mel.

I absolutely love the way your recipes are presented here. The recipe steps and photos are displayed nicely. Very enticing!!! You are also very articulate about your writing. Something I really enjoy.

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