Pickled quail eggs aren’t just a cute novelty, they’re delicious! After a long vacation road trip across the country, I brought a coworker a jar of pickled quail eggs from a convenience store in Texas. I also brought canned armadillo for another coworker, but that’s a different story…
I thought both were really spectacular gifts, but especially this tiny jar of pickled micro eggs was amazing, but my coworker wasn’t impressed. To each his own I guess, but about a decade later it’s time to make my own pickled quail eggs.
Quail eggs are an exciting treat to find at the grocery store and my little bounced with excitement when they saw a package of these tiny speckled morsels on the shelf at our local food coop. We have friends who raise quail, but they live too far away to share their bounty with us.
We’ve considered raising them ourselves, since they’re pretty easy to tend, and you can even raise them indoors in rabbit hutches without too much trouble. One can only take on so many projects though, so quail eggs remain a fun novelty for now. My three year old just couldn’t get enough of holding them, and it took time and effort to get her to give them up.
How to Hard Boil Quail Eggs
The first step in making pickled quail eggs is hard boiling. Those tiny little eggs don’t take long to cook, and I found several methods described online.
The first, and most obvious, is a simple boiling water method. Start by bringing a small pot of water to boil on the stove. Use a slotted spoon to place the quail eggs carefully into the water. Turn the temp down to a simmer and cook for about 4 minutes before removing the eggs to a cold water bath to cool.
The benefit of this method is that it’s quick and easy, but when you take a cold quail egg from the refrigerator and put it directly into boiling water there’s a risk that the egg will crack. With chicken eggs, cracked eggs in the boiling water means the white squirts out everywhere before it cooks and it makes a big mess.
I wanted to avoid this messy situation, so I put the quail eggs into a bowl of warm water from the sink tap to take the fridge chill off them. Even with this precaution, I still had two eggs crack immediately when they hit the boiling water. The thing is though, even though the shells visibly cracked, the membrane underneath is much tougher than a chicken egg and no white escaped.
If you want a more foolproof method to avoid cracking, starting with cold water is the way to go. Place the quail eggs in cold water in a pot and then put the pot on the stove. Bring the water up to just boiling, and then turn the heat off. Remove the pot from the heat and put a lid on. After 6 minutes, remove the eggs from the hot water to a cold water bath.
This slow heating means that the eggshells are less likely to crack. That said, even with cracks it didn’t really impact the quality of the finished hard-boiled quail eggs. The cracks actually made them easier to peel, since a bit of water got in under the shell and helped to separate it from the egg.
How to Peel Quail Eggs
Believe it or not, peeling quail eggs is actually really easy. I don’t say this lightly, I’m horrible at peeling eggs. I have a really wonderful recipe for spiced deviled eggs that I’d love to share with y’all, but the eggs are always so mangled after I peel them that I can’t bear to take a picture to go with the recipe.
Quail eggs are different. If you try to crack a raw quail egg into a bowl you’ll quickly learn that while the shell breaks easily, the membrane underneath does not. It’s actually quite difficult to crack a quail egg because as you whack it the shell falls away and you’re left with a tiny rubbery bag holding the egg inside.
Quail egg farmers have actually devised tiny scissors to cut the top off of quail eggs. That’s not because the shells are hard, but rather because you need something to puncture the inner membrane to get the egg out.
Once you’ve hard boiled quail eggs, simply tap them against the counter to break up the shell. Then, working carefully, pinch a bit of the membrane and pull it back away from the egg. At this point, the egg membrane can be pulled off in a spiral around the egg, with no damage at all.
There you have it, perfectly peeled quail eggs.
How to Make Pickled Quail Eggs
Once they’re hard-boiled and peeled, making pickled quail eggs isn’t really any different than any type of pickled egg. While the process isn’t any different, the result sure is. Since there’s more surface area to volume, the flavors infuse better and the final flavor is out of this world.
When pickling quail eggs, the seasonings are completely up to you. Start with a basic brine made with 1 cup of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring it to a boil on the stove so the salt dissolves. White vinegar is the most neutral, but any type will work. Apple cider vinegar gives the pickled quail eggs a bit of a rustic flavor, while balsamic adds sweeter, warmer notes and a lot of color.
For milder pickled eggs, with less tart vinegary flavor, substitute 1/3 of the vinegar for another liquid such as a dry white wine. Or beet juice for beautiful color and a lot of flavor. Or really, any other liquid that suits your fancy.
For seasonings, I prefer a warmly spiced pickled egg, with garlic, cloves, allspice, mustard seeds, and pepper. Keep in mind the seasonings are completely up to you, and alterations will make a dramatically different egg.
- 12 quail eggs, hard boiled & peeled
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 5 whole peppercorns
- 3-4 whole allspice berries
- 1-2 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- Hard boil and peel quail eggs as described above. Place the clean, peeled eggs in a jar.
- Bring all other ingredients to a boil on the stovetop and stir for about 1 minute until salt is dissolved.
- Pour hot brine and spices over quail eggs in a jar.
- Seal lid and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 week before eating to allow the flavors to infuse.
Pickled eggs CANNOT be safely canned at home. These must be stored in the refrigerator. That said, pickled quail eggs should keep in the refrigerator for several months, if they last that long...
How Many Quail Eggs Fit in a Jar?
It takes about 18 quail eggs to fit into a standard wide mouth pint mason jar. I happened to have some small European flip top rubber gasket jars that were 350 ml, or roughly 12 ounces. A dozen quail eggs were just right for that jar.
For every dozen quail eggs you need roughly one cup of prepared brine, so I’ve written this recipe for a dozen eggs. Scale to the number of eggs you have on hand. Since it’s 18 eggs to a wide mouth pint, a triple recipe with 36 quail eggs will make two wide mouth pint jars full.
Canning Pickled Quail Eggs?
I’m sorry to say that you cannot can pickled eggs at home. There are no safe approved methods for canning pickled eggs at home according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation. There have been several cases of botulism from home canned pickled eggs, and people have actually died.
How come granny never died from eating her canned pickled eggs? Pure luck. Botulism has to be present in order to take hold. Improperly canned goods only create the right oxygen-free environment for botulism to thrive. If by pure luck there are no spores present, then no, it cant grow. But there’s no way to know that, and canning unsafe food is like playing Russian roulette.
How Long Do Pickled Quail Eggs Keep?
Since you cant can pickled eggs, how long will they keep in the fridge? Longer than you might think! A jar of pickled quail eggs can keep 3 to 4 months in the refrigerator according to the national center for food preservation. That is a long time to have a jar in the fridge and trust me, they’re pretty addictive. Once you eat one, you might well just polish off the jar.
Easy enough. Make tasty pickled quail eggs. Eat them. Repeat. Really, they’re not going to make it that long in the fridge anyway.
More Ways to Preserve Eggs