recipe nostalgia: pickled red beet eggs, aka, “purple eggs”
Despite how gloomy and grey it looks outside lately, it’s summer time in San Francisco and with summer comes certain associations for me, memories of summers-past growing up in Pennsylvania! Thunderstorms. Fireflies. Picnics and Family. . . And with those memories of home, thoughts of certain foods are always linked. I may not be able to recreate a thunderstorm here, or wait for fireflies to appear at dusk, or hang out with my sister and parents 😦 but when I need to bring a little bit of Pennsylvania to my life here in California, when I need to connect with my roots just a little bit, food is a great way to do it. From assembling certain ingredients, to the physical act of making a dish, to the ritual presentation and eating of it, good feelings are always evoked when you reconnect with your past through food.
One such dish that instantly recalls memories of home for me (mostly because Pennsylvania is one of the only places you’ll ever find this dish) is the pickled red beet egg, or ‘purple eggs’ as they’re casually called. Yes, purple eggs are impossible to find here in California, let me tell you and when you describe them to anyone they’ll sort of look at you as if you must be joking. I mean, you MUST be. And yet, if you travel to South Central Pennsylvania, I can assure you they’re so common that you will find them in the deli section of any grocery store, or at any picnic, social or covered dish. I mean, they’re as common as whoopie pies. “But what’s a whoopie pie. . . ?” Sigh, I’ll have to write another blog post about those, too.
Pennsylvania Dutch Red Beet Eggs, aka “Purple Eggs”
(recipe taken from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Vacations website: http://lancastercountyvacations.com/pennsylvania-dutch-red-beet-eggs/)
“Basic Red Beet Egg Recipe
There are plenty of red beet egg recipes coming out of Lancaster, each with its own special twist. Here is the basic idea behind red beet eggs. The basic ingredients to the red beet egg recipe are:
Mix your beets with 2 cups of vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar. Heat this mixture until the sugar dissolves. Pour over a dozen peeled hard-boiled eggs. Store the eggs and mixture in a glass jar and refrigerate. Some people prefer to use the juice from canned beets while others prefer to boil fresh beets. If you decide to use fresh beets- cook them until tender, skin them, and then heat again with the vinegar and sugar.
Spicing Up a Red Beet Egg Recipe
For those wanting to get creative there are infinite possibilities when it comes to red beet eggs. Here are a few ingredients to consider:
Part of the fun with red beet eggs is experimenting with your recipe to see what flavors you like best. Remember though that a little spice goes a long way, so a quarter-teaspoon of cinnamon or a half-teaspoon of mustard seed should do the trick.
Red Beet Eggs are a tasty treat that will last for weeks. They are also a colorful addition to your meal. Many people find that red beet eggs are a great way to use painted Easter eggs once Easter is over. However, they are delicious all year round.”
Postscript: Surfing the blogosphere earlier today I came across a recipe on Mamarazzi that brought back loads more memories for me: Jell-O cake. Jell-O cake, in all its flavor incarnations (and there are many) was a staple celebration dessert in our house growing up and the whole family absolutely loved it. Check out the linked recipe above and best of all, it’s written so as to be a lower calorie version of the classic. Cheers to that!
POSTpostscript: Growing up, my family always made red beet eggs with canned beets. I love the recipe above because it is one of the few out there that asks you to boil real, live beets. I promise you that using fresh beets makes for a big improvement over the canned, so don’t be daunted!