Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Beets and Pickled Beet Eggs

Fresh summer produce has been a little slow so far this year. The farms I typically frequent have had hard harvests due to the severe amounts of rain, and there isn’t much variety. I’ve found some perfectly sweet corn, really spectacular romaine, and the biggest most delicious and flavorful beets. When beets come to mind, for me I instantly think of pickled beets and pickled beet eggs. They are popular especially here in Pennsylvania, but also in other places all over the country where Amish and Mennonites have settled. Much like most Pennsylvania Dutch foods, all of the classic Amish foods are popular in any place where there is a large European community since “Pennsylvania Dutch” originated from people  wrongly pronouncing Pennsylvania Deutsch. The Germans and Polish seem to have adapted these foods and made them their own. Almost all deli’s carry these pickled eggs as well as the Amish style salads. From the time I was a small one I’ve called these “purple eggs.” I remember family members loving them and I’m still loving them today. Although my husband cringes every time I make them because he says they reek, the tradition continues. Purple eggs are a must-have! 

I found a few of the most beautiful beets at the farm stand. I’d first thought of trying something different, I was going to try my hand at beet chips. As you can see sentiment got the best of me, and I went with something a bit more regular. I really wanted to make something slightly sentimental. Like most things I can myself here at home, these pickled beets are extremely simple to make. Its incredibly satisfying to preserve beets yourself because they are nothing like anything you can buy from the stores. Store purchased beets typically have a blandness about them, and they are in my opinion too soft.  These are vibrant, sweet, sour and slightly spicy. The pickled beet eggs are a combination of sweet, sour creamy and perfectly eggy. It may not be “gourmet” or avant-garde, but that is what makes these so wonderful. They are a classic, basic, and memorable food. To me good food, is food that I love, food that brings back memories, food that is as delicious today as it was the first time I’ve had it. Pickled Beets, and Pickled Beet eggs are an absolutely perfect example of that. Ageless, old school, naturally pickled Purple-ness. 
Pickled Beets
This is a very simple recipe. It is for one, 1 quart jar. You can enlarge the batch as much as necessary. For basic raw pickled beets cooking the beets is not necessary. This allows for crisp, bright flavors, best when simply placed in the refrigerator and eaten within a few weeks. For a more tender pickled beet simmer the beets until tender in the brine, then process as usual. I do not always add spices and onion to my pickled beets. When I do it is very reminiscent of one of my all time favorite side dishes, Braised Red Cabbage (hot cabbage salad). I happen to love all things vinegary, spicy and slightly funky. 

2 large beets, sliced very thin (I used a mandoline)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

In a small sauce pot, (or large pot according to how big of a batch you are making) combine sugar, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil and whisk until dissolved. If making spiced pickled beets, add the spices. Slice beets thinly. Place into sterile jars (if processing to be shelf stable) Cover with hot liquid. Process jars according to your altitude or place in the refrigerator. They are perfectly pickled within 48 hours and should last for up to 3 months in the refrigerator. (For Processing: Its 10 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts)
(Spiced pickled beets- add 1/2 sliced onion to each jar as well as 4 allspice and 8 whole cloves)

Pickled Beet Eggs (Purple Eggs)

1/2 quart (or 1 pint) pickled beets including liquid, about 1 cup of liquid
8 cloves, whole
4 allspice, whole
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
sliced onion
6 or 7 hard boiled eggs, peeled. 
In a pan combine beets, onion, vinegar, sugar, spices and beet liquid. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Lay some beets and onions into the bottom of your jar. Place peeled hard boiled eggs on top of the beets. Pour liquid over top. If you have liquid or beets remaining that will not fit simply store them in an air tight container… 
or- eat them as Connor and myself did. You might want to use a fork. We are still kind of purple.
Place in the refrigerator 24-48 hours. The longer you allow them to rest the further the purple color will penetrate into the egg. They will last in the fridge approximately 1 week. I’ve seen that pickled eggs are sold shelf stable for long periods of time however I’ve not tried it. (they seem scary and gruesome)

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