What’s better than pickled eggs? Pickled quail eggs of course! They are the perfect bite sized treat, just pop them into your mouth and go. The hardest part is not to eat the whole jar in one go! Off course, any food is better when its tiny. Besides looking great on a plate, their small size means they pickle much more quickly. Seriously does it get any better?
4 dozen quail eggs, washed clean
500ml apple cider vinegar (300ml for pickle & 200ml for soaking eggs, to help with the peeling)
4 tsp. kosher salt
3 tsp. chili flakes
3 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
3 tsp. whole peppercorns
2 tsp. mustard seeds
8 garlic cloves, peeled
3-4 bay leaves
Note – The chili flakes, ground cayenne pepper and whole peppercorns can all be adjusted to taste; I wanted to give my pickled eggs a bit of a kick. You can substitute apple cider vinegar with white wine vinegar or white vinegar; I just used what I had available in the pantry at the time. This recipe can be made a week ahead.
This recipe is very simple to make. Make the pickle first and while its cooling down you can prepare the quail eggs. To make the peeling of the eggs easier, its best if you use slightly older eggs since their shells will come off much easier than eggs that have been laid within a day or two. Make sure the eggs are nice and clean. If they need a bit of a tidy up give them a wipe or a rinse under running water. To determine whether the eggs are fresh or not, you can perform a float test; if the eggs sink they are good to eat, if any of the eggs float to the surface discard as they are not fit for consumption.
To make the spicy pickling juice, place all the ingredients (except for the quail eggs) into a small saucepan and mix all the ingredients to combine.
Bring the saucepan to a boil to dissolve the salt and then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Let the saucepan cool down to room temperature; this takes at least 1 hour.
Carefully place the quail eggs into a large saucepan. Fill the saucepan with enough water to cover the quail eggs.
Place the saucepan onto the stove top and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer for the next 4 minutes. While the eggs are simmering its important to gently stir the eggs several times to centre the yolk; it makes it much easier to peel later on.
While the eggs are simmering prepare an ice bath.
Once the 4 minutes of simmering is up, drain immediately by carefully scooping the eggs with a slotted spoon and placing them into an ice bath to stop the eggs from over cooking. If you don’t have ice, just drain the saucepan in the sink, turn on the tap and let cold water run for at least 2 minutes.
Let the eggs fully cool down, this happens pretty quickly as the eggs are so tiny. This generally takes around 15-20 minutes.
Fresh eggs can be hard to peel, especially quail eggs. For best results, I find if you soak the eggs in vinegar for half an hour or so, they become much easier to peel. Once the eggs have cooled, drain the water and cover the eggs with the remaining apple cider vinegar so the eggs can soften.
Here is a close up of the speckles coming off the egg shells – I was really amazed seeing this the first time I made these.
After half an hour or so the freckles will come off the shell and this is when the eggs are ready to peel. It’s a pretty amazing reaction!
Don’t be alarmed as this will not affect the finished product.
I found when peeling quail eggs, just tap the top and bottom ends of the egg on the counter to loosen the shell and start the crack, then roll on the counter to crack the rest of the shell. If you get it started just right you can peel it like an orange – it’s the easiest way I have found.
When the eggs have been peeled, place them into clean canning jars. You can reuse any glass jars you have around but you must sterilize them first. Pour the pickling juice over eggs in the jars so they are completely submerged. It’s okay if you can’t fit all the pickling brine into the jars. Place the lids back on the jars and refrigerate the eggs for at least a week to allow the flavours to develop in the pickling brine and fully infuse the eggs. The longer they sit, the more flavourful they get, just try not to think about them – which is easier said than done!
The pickled eggs will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 months, provided they are covered by the pickling liquid. But I guarantee you they will be consumed well before then 😋