The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

An eighteenth century recipe for pickled eggs.

Dorothy Hartley quotes in full a recipe from 1700 for pickling eggs. It would be difficult to improve upon.

“‘When eggs are plentiful, farmers’ wives take four or six dozen newly laid, and boil them hard; then, taking off the shells, they place them in earthenware jars and pour upon them scalding vinegar well seasoned with pepper, allspice, ginger, and garlic. The eggs are fit to use after a month.’” (Food in England 345)

eggs_in_bowl.jpg

Notes:

-So much for the bland reputation of traditional English food.

-It is unclear whether Hartley or someone else was quoting the original recipe with modernized spelling, or whether someone described the 1700 recipe for Hartley before she published Food in England during 1954. Either way, Hartley must have been right in noting that “[e]ggs thus treated are held in high esteem by all farmhouse epicures.” No doubt city folks too.

-The recipe does not specify the kind of vinegar; more than likely you just used what you had, cider in Somerset, Malt in Kent and so forth. Typical of its time, the recipe does not quantify the amount of spice, and that is fine; amounts are entirely elective.

-In typically eccentric fashion, Hartley provides an index entry for ‘pickled cauliflower,’ then notes only that “[s]prigs of cauliflower are an essential part of a mixed pickle” without providing recipes either for mixed pickle or for pickling cauliflower itself.