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Making Pickled Onions

Find out how to pickle onions

Making Pickled Onions

preserving | vegetables | grow your own

Pickled onions are a delicious snack or go well with salads, cheese, and ploughman's lunches. They are also a great way of using small onions which have been thinned out from a row in your garden/allotment, or to preserve onions for use throughout the year. Using the same techniques shallots can also be pickled. Even if you do not have the opportunity or desire to grow your own onions, you can purchase good onions and shallots in the autumn at their cheapest and then enjoy eating them all year around.

Shallots can be pickled

How to Pickle Onions

Picking onions is very easy. All you need is salt, malt vinegar, and of course onions. In order to make the pickled onions even more delicious pickling spice, ginger, cinnamon, spicy vinegars, chillis, pepper corns, all spice and other flavourings can be added. Glass jars with tight fitting lids are also required and can either be purchased new, or (better yet) used mayonnaise, jam, and other jars can be washed and reused.

First a brine must be made. For five kilograms of onions, boil one litre of water and stir in 500g of sea salt until it has all dissolved. Leave the brine to cool until it is cold.

Peel the onions using a sharp steel knife, and submerge them in the brine. They must remain fully under water and so use a pan lid weighed down with something heavy to prevent the onions from floating up. The onions must be left for at least 24-48 hours in the brine to draw out their moisture.

Next the pickling vinegar must be prepared. An aluminium or enamel pan must be used as the acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with copper and iron for example. Boil up a couple of litres of malt vinegar and drop in a spice bag made up of your spices, ginger, cinnamon stick, bay leaf etc wrapped in a piece of muslin. Add a tablespoon of salt and two or three small peeled onions. Boil the mixture for around 5 minutes, remove the spice bag, and leave to cool naturally (i.e. not in the fridge).

Jars of homemade pickled onions

When the onions are ready, rinse them very well in cold water and pack them tightly into your sterilised jars (making sure you can still fit the lid securely). Then pour the cold vinegar over the onions so that they are all completely covered.

Pickled onions should be left for at least a week or two to absorb flavours from the vinegar, so seal the jars and store in a cool dark place. After that you can enjoy eating your pickled onions for months to come.

Shopping List

Here are some useful links to relevant products:
large glass jars
kilner jars

Article Published: 15:05, 7th Jul 2008

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