Easter Monday you might find yourself standing in the kitchen holding a basket of hard boiled eggs with jelly beans stuck to them, wondering what to do.
Because I am a factoid nutcase, first here are some tips and facts about hard boiled eggs first:
1. The fresher the egg, the harder to peel. The “bubble” at the top of the egg is formed as moisture escapes through the shell and is replaced by air. The bigger the bubble, the older the egg, but also, the easier it is to peel. Here at the farm we do not wash eggs, but store them yucky, because they stay fresher that way.
2. To peel a hard boiled egg, place a towel on your kitchen counter, smack the egg firmly on to the towel and roll it back and forth so that the cracks spread. If you buy your eggs at a regular grocery store, you should have a pretty easy time removing the egg from the shell without a lot of nicks. Save the not so perfect eggs for egg salad (recipe below) and use the perfect ones for pickling or deviling or both. You can compost the shells, OR you can use them as teeny tiny seed starter pots: put a little potting soil in the half shell, plant a seed and when it sprouts, plant the whole thing.
3. If your egg salads and your deviled eggs have a gray ring in them that sort of makes the yolk look dull, your egg isn’t bad, but your cooking method is. The grayness is caused by a chemical reaction between two natural elements in eggs: sulfur and iron. The egg has actually “rusted.” Put your eggs in a pot big enough so that they are in a single layer, covered with cold water. Place them on your heat, bringing them slowly up to a rolling boil for two minutes. Shut off the heat, and let them sit for 12 minutes. Pour off the hot water and cover the eggs with ice. Let cool for half an hour. Now they will peel perfectly, with no gray.
4. Interesting but useless facts: 60 percent of the 75 billion eggs commercially produced in the United States are used at home, by consumers. 40 percent are used by assorted food service and producing industries. Over 300 billion eggs are produced by the Chinese. Eggs are one of the most popular foods in the world because although fragile, they store well for a couple of weeks without refrigeration in most climates, they are protein dense and hormone free, and are easy to cook and inexpensive.
The Resurrection of the Pickled Egg
I was first attracted to pickled eggs because they are a beautiful color. I wanted nail polish that color, maybe a blouse. But good ones are also tangy and a very satisfying snack – the additional flavoring being added by spices and beet juice, rather than fats, oils or sugars, so a pickled egg has the same calories as a regular egg, but is Fancy. Good pickled eggs have been soaking in this recipe for at least four days, and the whites are pickled pink all the way to the yellow. Any remaining white is a sign of shame.