Pickled eggs have been a traditional snack food at pubs for centuries and today they still appear in pubs and in American bars served from large jars. Pickling food was a way to keep it fresh and healthy when there was no refrigeration. Pickled eggs last for at least three to four weeks making them convenient as a snack.
English style pickled eggs are made with vinegar and a few spices like ginger and peppercorns. The eggs take on the flavor of these spices and make them fragrant and tasty. Malt vinegar is the vinegar of choice when making pickled eggs because it gives an extra dimension of mellowness to the egg that apple cider vinegar does not, although apple cider vinegar is often used to pickle eggs today. The malt vinegar and ginger make for a flavor that pairs nicely with beer, making them a great snack for the pub.
Before making the eggs, sterilize the jars in which they will pickle. Use standard canning jars that have a lid and seal. The regular quart jar will hold anywhere from five to six eggs. Use larger sealable jars if making enough English-style pickled eggs for a crowd. For household use, a smaller jar is desirable as keeping the eggs more than six weeks after opening may change the texture from creamy to rubbery. Sterilize jars just prior to canning the eggs and also sterilized the lids and seals of the jars.
Boiling the Eggs
Eggs should be at room temperature to avoid cracking while boiling. Place 16 eggs in a large pan and cover with lukewarm water. Place the pot on the stove and slowly bring the eggs to a boil. Boil medium sized eggs 12 minutes, large eggs 17 minutes and extra-large eggs 19 minutes, moving them around in the pan after half the time has elapsed. Immediately pour out most of the water and cover eggs with cold tap water. Once the eggs have cooled, remove the shell and place the desired amount of eggs into each jar.
Making the Pickling Brine
While the eggs are cooling, prepare the brine, or pickling juice, that will flavor the eggs by placing 2 pints of malt vinegar in a non-aluminum saucepan. Aluminum and vinegar tend to create a disagreeable chemical reaction that makes the eggs taste different. Peel a section of a hand of ginger, chop 1 tablespoon (15 grams) and add to the saucepan. Also add 6 to 10 allspice berries and 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at least 10 minutes.
Then you will want to cool the mixture and bring it to room temperature. Pour it into the egg jars so that it completely covers the eggs, and seal the jars. Store the jars in a dark, dry and cool area for about two to three weeks before opening and eating. No refrigeration is required after the jars are opened, but they can be placed in the refrigerator without any bad effects.
The longer the eggs sit in the solution, the spicier and more flavorful they will be. Serve them with a pint of beer for a lovely English pickled egg snack that any English pub would be proud of.