I’ve talked before about my love for pickled things and this year have really got on board with pickling stuff myself – it’s really fun, very satisfying and also makes great DIY gifts for other food lovers! The latest thing we’ve tried is some pickled onions.
We made a really large batch which made us 7 standard jars, but I’ve scaled down our recipe which will produce about 2 jars of onions.
Pickling things is really great, because once you’ve got your basic pickling mix (usually vinegar and sugar) you can play around with it using different vinegars, spices etc to make lots of different variations.
To start with though you need to peel and brine the onions. Theres a good technique for peeling lots of small onions – cut off the root (like in the picture) and then immerse in boiling water for 30seconds in large batches, then the skins just come off really easily, no more cutting needed! When this is done it’s time for brining, which allows the onion to retain that crunch. For 300g onions use 75g salt dissolved in 500ml of warm water. Cover the onions with the brine in a nonmetallic bowl and leave overnight or for 24 hours. Then rinse well and pat dry.
We like to use a mixture of standard distilled pickling vinegar (the clear stuff) and Aspall cider vinegar for the pickling itself. For this batch we made two types of pickle:
Firstly Aspalls own recipe that I found on the internet which looked really interesting, as it swapped out any sugar and replaced it with honey. You can find the recipe for Honey Pickled Onions on Aspalls website. We actually omitted the bay leaves though, and used half and half on the cider vinegar and spirit vinegar.
The other recipe was for hot and spicy onions. You will need:
- 150ml Cider Vinegar
- 150ml Distilled Pickling Vinegar
- 300g baby onions or shallots
- 1tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp mixed peppercorns (pink/black/green)
- 2 dried red chillies
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
Simply sterilise your jars and lids (I find the best way is to either put them through a dishwasher cycle, or wash thoroughly then put in the oven for 10 minutes) then allow to cool.
Bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil with the spices then turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Pack the jars with onions, then pour over the cooled vinegar mix, making sure the onions are completely covered. Seal and the store in a cool dark place for at least 2-4 weeks before using, but they will keep unopened for up to about 6-8 months. Once opened used within a few weeks.
Another great idea for flavouring the pickle, especially for Christmas would be to add star anise, cloves and a cinnamon stick to the vinegar for a real Winter twist. If you’re planning on gifting the onions, grab some jam jar covers from somewhere like Hobbycraft and you can make them look really pretty too!
Happy pickling :)
If you fancy having a go yourself, let me know how you get on! You could also have a look at some other ways of pickling and preserving onions such as: