Pickled Eggs three ways

I recently ate an amazingly delicious snack:  a pickled egg.

Pickled eggs three ways

Pickled eggs three ways: Lemon with black pepper, Sriracha, and Meyer lemon with fresh thyme

The guy at a local cheese shop where I bought it assured me they were “stupid easy” to make at home after I asked him how they had conjured such amazingness.  So I went home and tried my hand at making some.  They really are easy to make and customize to your taste buds.

clockwise from top left: Meyer lemon, black pepper, lemon, fresh thyme

clockwise from top left: Meyer lemon, black pepper, lemon, fresh thyme

The humble hen’s egg takes very kindly to a number of potent flavor combinations.  I offer you three flavors of pickled eggs, paying homage to my California roots:  Lemon with black pepper, Meyer Lemon with fresh thyme*, and Sriracha.  Enjoy!

pickled eggs with Meyer lemon and fresh thyme

pickled eggs with Meyer lemon and fresh thyme

Pickled Eggs
(makes eggs and brine for a dozen eggs)

12 large eggs, boiled and peeled
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
3 TB Diamond crystal kosher salt
Option one: zest of one meyer lemon and several sprigs of fresh thyme
Option two: zest of one lemon, 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Option three: 1/4 cup Sriracha

Combine the vinegar, water, and salt.  Stir until salt is dissolved.  Pack boiled eggs and your choice of flavor options in a lidded glass jar.  Pour brine to completely cover the eggs and herbs, for options one and two.  For the Sriracha option, combine 1/2 of the brine with 1/4 cup of Sriracha before pouring over the eggs.

Store in the fridge.  It takes at least 3 days for good flavor to develop.  Eat the eggs within two weeks for best freshness.  The whites of the eggs will become firmer over time.

*Meyer lemons are common in California, and their scent profile is different from a regular lemon, and share characteristics with thyme.

Dried Persimmon – 2015 update

Subtle, sweet, complex, mellow and addictively delicious Dried Persimmon – YES.  It’s Halloween, and in the bay area, backyard persimmons are at the best state of ripeness for drying:  orange, but still hard.  Once they begin to soften, they’re too ripe to use for this technique.  I’m re-posting this recipe to help get you inspired.   When to pick the fruit is key, and the time is upon us.

persimmons, washed and trimmed but not peeled

persimmons, washed and trimmed but not peeled

I LOVE Dried Persimmon when served with good cheese (manchego is fabulous) and a quality sherry for a lux happy hour.  Enjoy!

Dried Persimmon

My friend Janet has a mature Hachiya persimmon tree in her backyard, which produces lots of beautiful fruit each Fall.  I’ve picked the dark orange mature fruit, when they are the consistency of jelly, and made the puree into cakes and other confections.  Two years ago she learned a simple technique for drying these fruit, a practice that hails from Japan.

sliced of dried persimmon

sliced of dried persimmon

A stunning natural transformation occurs when these supremely astringent unripe fruit are peeled and left to air dry for several weeks:  they turn into a most delicious, delicate, sweet natural confection.  Here’s what to do, if you find yourself with a big crop of Hachiya persimmons one Fall.

Pick the persimmons when they are bright orange all over and still quite firm and opaque.  Keep a cross-shaped section of the branch on which the fruit hangs — you will need this to secure string for hanging.  Clip the sepals to a neat circle on the top of the fruit.  Peel the thin skin off the whole fruit, leaving a dime sized patch at the base.  Secure a string on the stem of the fruit from which to hang the fruit.

peeled persimmons, day 3 of drying

peeled persimmons, day 3 of drying

Hang each fruit so that it doesn’t touch its neighbor.  Good air circulation is key.  Hang the peeled persimmons in a warm dry room.  I hung a wooden closet dowel from some bike hooks I screwed into the ceiling, then secured the strung persimmons to this dowel.  I had 50 fruit, which was pretty heavy to begin with.  Over the course of several weeks the fruit will turn darker, and shrink, then pucker.

drying persimmon, after 3 weeks

drying persimmon, after 3 weeks

Some of the fruit may drop off — so it’s wise to place a towel under them, just in case.  When the fruit is about 1/2 as big as original, give each one a gentle massage.  This will help to distribute the moisture for even drying.

Dried whole persimmons, after 6 weeks

Dried whole persimmons, after 6 weeks

As long as the fruit doesn’t smell sour it’s good!  When the fruit is the consistency of a soft gummy bear, it’s ready to eat.  Slice into pieces and enjoy!

Salt-preserved citrus

I have a beautiful Persian lime tree in my back yard, and a good friend has a super productive Meyer lemon.  Two months ago my lime tree was covered with fruit, and my friend brought over a grocery bag filled with lemons.  So, instead of lemonade, I made salt-preserved lemons and limes.  This is an old tradition in parts of the middle east.  The citrus gets soft and mellow after a month or so in the fridge.  The resulting preserved citrus has a bright delicious citrus flavor and the natural pectin in the rind adds unctuousness to recipes.

Kosher salt – up to 1 cup per quart of preserved citrus

lots of high quality lemons or limes, scrubbed

glass quart jar(s) with new lids

Cut the fruit almost all the way into quarters, leaving one end intact.  You can quarter the fruit if you like — it’s up to you.   Put a couple tablespoons of salt in the the bottom of a clean, sterilized, glass quart jar.

Next, rub salt all over the citrus and put the salt covered citrus in the jar.  Don’t be shy with the salt!  Really coat the citrus in salt.  Repeat with more fruit, and pack them in.  The juice of the citrus will squish out — this is what you want.  You will end up with the lemon or lime juice totally covering the fruit and a layer of undissolved salt in the bottom of the jar.  Add more freshly squeezed juice to cover the fruit, if needed, to minimize the air layer at the top.

The salt will dissolve over the next couple of days.  My photo above is taken right after I made the preserved citrus, so you can see the salt at the bottom.   It’s OK if you still have some undissolved salt after a while.  Put the lids on the jars and place at room temp for two days, giving the jars a turn or shake a couple times to help redistribute the salt.   Don’t open the jars during this rest time.

Put the jars, unopened, in the fridge for at least three weeks.  Then — enjoy!  They will last in the fridge for around 6 months.

Here’s a link to a chicken dish in which to use preserved lemon.  When you use the preserved citrus, rinse them and discard the pulp if you want.  I’ll post a recipe I created to use my preserved lime soon.  SO yummy.