Extra eggs? Pickle them!
Eggs cannot be preserved, but they can be pickled and kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
It is that time of the year, eggs are on sale and you find yourself stocking up on them just because they are such a good bargain. How do you use them all up though? Scrambled, fried, poached, egg salad, even lots of baked goods call for eggs. Have you considered pickling a batch? If you find yourself considering this option to prepare and pickle your abundance of springtime eggs, remember there are no research-tested, reliable home canning recommendations for keeping eggs, even if they are pickled at room temperature.
Eggs are a low-acid food, and provide a perfect environment for botulism to grow in areas of the boiled egg that has not been sufficiently saturated by vinegar. The density, thickness and very low acidy of eggs (pH ranges between 6.4 and 9.0) all present challenges for adequate penetration of vinegar and sufficient acidification throughout all areas of each egg.
Rather than going through the steps of a canning process, simply make delicious pickled eggs safely at home by following research-based recipes and directions designed for refrigerator storage. Note there is not a recipe designed for pickled eggs to be stored outside of the refrigerator or shelf stable storage.
To make a batch of pickled eggs, be sure to wash all utensils and surface areas (including hands) very well. Sanitize jars that will hold the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water, before filling with boiled eggs. Pickled eggs must be kept refrigerated and should not be left out at room temperature. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the eggs be left intact and not poked or pricked, or otherwise handled in a manner that might allow spores or bacteria into the yolk. It takes about two weeks to season in the brine before they reach peak flavor. Unless the recipe indicates otherwise, you will want to consume the pickled eggs with two to three months for best quality. More pickling tips and recipes are available at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
Below is a recipe from the fifth edition of So Easy to Preserve, from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
Refrigerated pickled eggs
16 fresh eggs
2 Tablespoons whole allspice
2 Tablespoons whole peppercorns
2 Tablespoons ground ginger
4 cups white vinegar (five percent)
2 Tablespoons white sugar
Directions: Cook eggs in simmering water for 15 minutes. Place eggs in cold water, remove shells and pack into jars that have been sterilized in boiling water for 10 minutes. In a pot, combine vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Pour hot liquid over hard-boiled eggs. Put lid on jar. Store the finished product in the refrigerator. Use within a month. This recipe is not intended for long term storage at room temperature.
Eggs are an inexpensive source of protein for everyone. Michigan State University Extension recommends utilizing research based resources to explore and discover what else you can do with eggs to keep your family safe.