One of the bonuses of our move to the farm I grew up on is that we could take part in a childhood tradition; the blessing of our Easter baskets. It was many moves and many years before we were able to find a Polish church that did basket blessings, and be able to take ours in.
That didn’t stop us from doing our traditional baskets. It was one of my favorite traditions, growing up, and even when we stopped going to church for many years (for a variety of reasons), we still did our baskets and simply blessed them ourselves.
Which is what we’ll have to do this year, since none of the churches are holding any sort of services during the lockdown, other than online.
We did start some of our preparations already. For the cheese portion of our basket, we decided to do marinated goat cheese again. I made up two 250ml canning jars for our basket (I’m hoping to get one of them to my mother, along with some fresh horseradish), plus two 500ml ones, just for regular eating.
Tomorrow, I hope to make some fancy bread for the basket. Probably a Braided Egg Bread again, though I haven’t completely decided yet.
Today, I started pink pickled eggs; one of three ways we like to do eggs for our basket. The recipe for pink pickled eggs that I followed before is here. This year we, strangely, had a hard time finding anything other than shredded beets at the grocery store, so I modified the recipe a bit. I found 1 small jar of tiny pickled beets and used the juice from that to colour the liquid, plus sliced some of the beets and included them in with the eggs. With so little beet juice, I figured the addition of the beets themselves would help add colour. The other change I made was to include the fresh herbs I had left over from making the marinated goat cheese; thyme and rosemary.
When preparing eggs for the basket, we always cook way more than we need, so that we can use only the most perfect eggs for the basket.
Which is difficult, when the eggs need to be peeled first. There have been times when we’ve boiled a dozen eggs, and not a single one could be peeled without tearing apart!
So today, I tried a combination of “hacks” to get the job done.
The first is to add baking soda to the cooking water. Yes, it does make a difference.
The next is to cool the cooked eggs down as quickly as possible. Putting the eggs into an ice bath is one way to do it, but our well water gets so cold, we can get away with using tap water.
The final one is something I tried for the first time today, and it worked beautifully!
Shaking them in a jar.
Okay, so it wasn’t quite that simple. 😀
I grabbed a small canning jar, though any jar (with a lid) just a bit bigger than an egg would work. Theoretically, you can use a small glass and cover the top with your fingers, but that would get pretty messy. The first jar I tried was a 500ml (pint) size, and I found it a bit too big and ended up using a 250ml jar instead.
Leaving the eggs in their cold water soak, take one egg and put it in the jar, along with enough water to fill the jar about half full or a bit more. It can be helpful to crack the shell a bit before putting it in the jar.
Then, put on the lid and start shaking. Vigorously, but not too violently!
The shaking does a few things. The most obvious is, it cracks the shell quite thoroughly. This is where you have to find a balance on how much water is in the jar when you shake it. Too much, and the water protects the egg from cracking as much. Too little, and the egg can get bashed apart.
The shaking also separates the membrane from the white of the eggs – which would have already been spurred along by the addition of baking soda to the cooking water, and the quick cool down. And finally, it lets water work its way between the membrane and the egg white, making it much easier to remove the shell.
After a thorough shaking, dump the contents back into the water with the rest of the eggs. While holding the cracked egg under water, start peeling away the shell. If it still sticks, do the shake again. 🙂
Out of the package of 18 eggs I cooked, I got 8 that were perfect enough for the basket; two for each of us.
This is what happens when an egg is shaken up too vigorously.
Here are the best eggs, ready for the fridge.
They should have at least 3 days to marinade in the pickling liquid, which is just in time for Easter.
Of the remaining eggs, there was one that broke during cooking, which left another 8 eggs suitable for pickling. I did up another container the same way, minus the beet juice. It still has beet slices with the eggs, so it will have just a hint of pink. That one will be for regular eating.
It is going to be a delicious Easter celebration this Sunday! 🙂