Food & Nutrition Column
Mary Ann Lienhart Cross
County Extension Director
Extension Educator – Health and Human Sciences
Purdue Extension Elkhart County
For release March 25, 2013
The calendar may be saying it is spring but Mother Nature is in control, and as I type this column, it looks and feels like winter! Thanks for all the calls and emails about the wonderful roasted corned beef and vegetables you prepared. The comments were that you were delighted with roasting the food verses boiling it.
Cold weather like this is soup weather to me, but I am going to share with you about Easter and eggs. With April right around the corner, we can begin to expect some warmer weather is but there will still be coldness to the air and ground. Regardless of the weather it is time for some food safety reminders on eggs.
I am always amazed when I see deviled eggs in the store; I always have to check the price just for curiosity, what a sticker shock considering that eggs have been on sale. Spring cooking, coloring eggs and possibly making hard cooked red beet eggs go hand-in-hand in encouraging us all to connect in the kitchen. As adults of all ages along with children we need to do more fun things like coloring eggs. Coloring eggs is something I did with my mother and grandmothers and I continue to do every year.
Easter also means some other special foods like pickled red beet eggs, which in my family involves a food cutting technique I learned from my father. We cut the eggs in tulip shapes with a small paring knife as well as made them into deviled eggs. For deviled eggs most cooks have their own special ingredients, I like to add horseradish and sweet relish to the finely chopped yolk mixture with a reduced fat salad dressing, mayonnaise, or plain yogurt. Some other foods that mean Easter are ham, braided egg buns, leg of lamb with mint sauce, and hot cross buns.
Hard cooked eggs are a most economical source of protein; they’re a good source of nutrition all the time. When hard cooking eggs here are some facts to know: So that the eggs peel easiest plan to use eggs that are at least one week old or older for hard cooking. It is also a good idea if you let the eggs come to room temperature before cooking. Plan to set the eggs out overnight, or have them set for several hours.
Place unshelled eggs in a saucepan, add one teaspoon or more of salt and cover them with cold water. Begin cooking the eggs in cold water, not boiling water. Put the pan over medium heat and bring the water to a boil. Put the lid on the pan, set the timer for 18 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and let it set. Never boil eggs unless you prefer them to be rubbery or like the texture of tennis balls. Once the time is up, pour off the hot water and plunge the eggs into water with ice cubes – more ice than water. This stops further cooking and prevents the yolk from discoloring. The color of the yolk will vary according to the type of feed the chickens have eaten. The green ring around the yolk is caused by a reaction with the egg combining the iron and sulfur in it. You can prevent this by putting the eggs into ice cold water as soon as the cooking is complete. Continue to change the cold water on the eggs until they are very cold. If you use lots of ice you won’t need to change the water.
Now for the sometimes frustrating part: shelling or peeling the eggs. Tap the bottom and the top, then crack the shell and roll the egg between the palms of your hands to free the thin, tough skin from the egg. If you are having trouble peeling the eggs, it sometimes helps to do it under running water but it usually is a sign that the eggs were too fresh. The bottom line is there is nothing you can do once they are cooked and not peeling easily.
For coloring eggs, mix the following in a small, deep cup or bowl: 2/3 cup boiling water, 2 teaspoons distilled vinegar, 1/3 teaspoon food coloring; if you want darker colors use more coloring. Dip the hot, hard cooked eggs into the bowl of colored liquid. Let set until they turn the desired color, then cool in cold water. Once cooled, try and place in original carton and refrigerate. If you want an inexpensive Easter table decoration plan to use a pretty bowl with your decorated eggs and then the eggs are disposed of following the celebration.
When it comes to storage of hard cooked eggs, they should not set out at room temperature for more than two hours. If the eggs are left out for more than two hours or longer they need to be disposed of. Hard cooked eggs may be stored for two months when peeled, placed in a jar and covered with vinegar. These eggs are great for many uses like egg salad, deviled eggs, or used in a salad.
Here is my recipe for Pickled Red Beet Eggs:
2 cans small beats, juice reserved
1 dozen eggs, hardboiled and shelled
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 cups of beet juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. pickling spice (or 1 tsp. allspice and 1 tsp. cloves)
I purchase two cans of small beets and hard cook a dozen eggs. I peel the eggs and drain the beets into a measuring cup if necessary, add enough water to equal 2 cups. Gather a couple of wide mouth jars. To make the brine, in a large sauce pan combine the vinegar, sugar, beet juice, salt, and pickling spice (or if you don’t have pickling spice you may substitute 1 teaspoon of allspice and 1 teaspoon of cloves). Bring all of these ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure all the sugar is dissolved, then turn down and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beets and simmer another 5 minutes.
Rinse the jars with hot water. Place a layer of beets in the bottom and then add some eggs and some of the pickled red beet brine that you just made. Continue to add the beets and eggs in layers and adding more of the brine. Once the pickling solution has cooled down, the eggs or beets need to be refrigerated. You can also prepare a jar of beets only and a jar of eggs only. I like mixing the two together. A few of the beets and a pickled egg or two are a great lunch with a piece of whole wheat bread or make for a tasty, nutrient‐dense snack. Remember that it is easy to cut the beets in tulip shapes using your narrow paring knife. Enjoy!
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