Delta Red Eggs

I’d certainly eaten ordinary pickled eggs at cafés, diners, and picnics while growing up in the Carolinas, but it was not till I went to Indianola, Mississippi, to visit a large catfish cooperative that I was first exposed to hard-boiled eggs pickled in vinegar and beet juice. As it turned out, red eggs are a beloved specialty in both Mississippi and Louisiana Delta households and restaurants, served not only with cold cuts but also as an appetizer at fish dinners. Some home cooks will typically use the liquid derived from boiling beets to make red eggs, but most of the locals I encountered simply open a can of cooked beets—as I do. Another popular way of serving these colorful eggs is atop a bed of wilted beet greens, with or without a few sliced beets.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup beet juice from canned beets
  • 2 small red chile peppers
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 10 dried coriander seeds
  • 10 whole allspice
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sliver fresh nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 large hard-boiled eggs

Method

In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the eggs, bring to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Pack the eggs into large canning jars, pour in enough of the vinegar mixture to just cover the eggs, screw on jar tops tightly, and refrigerate at least 1 week before serving.