Grow Onions for Savoury Pickled Onions
By Steven Biggs
Gardener, Garden Writer, Garden Coach, Horticulturist
Pickled onions. You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. My father-in-law made it quite clear that there was no way he would sample them. No chance.
But my friend Rob ate the better part of a bottle. Luckily, his wife liked them too, so they both had the same scent on their breath.
If you picture those bland white excuses for pickled onions you find at the supermarket as you read this, you’ve missed out on a real treat.
I’m talking about the real McCoy: pickled onions the size of a twoonie, with a rich earthy colour, and an almost fruity smell.
If you grow onions, there are always some that don’t reach their full size potential. They’re a bother to peel for cooking. But they’re the right size for pickling.
Here’s what I do.
- enough small onions to fill a 1 litre jar (I like them about 1.5” in diameter), peeled
- malt vinegar
- 1 tbsp pickling salt
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- pickling spices (you can use a commercial mix, or simply mix peppercorns, mustard seed, and dried hot pepper)
- Fill a 1-litre mason jar with onions;
- Add 1 tbsp salt, then fill the jar with water;
- Leave for 1 day, then pour out the liquid;
- When you pour out the salt water, measure how much you have, so that you know how much vinegar solution to prepare;
- Mix vinegar, brown sugar, and pickling spices ;
- Pour hot vinegar solution over onions and seal the jar;
- Store for a few weeks to allow onions to flavour up before eating.
Here’s a picture of the pickled onions I made this fall.
I pickled whatever onions didn’t get big enough to braid. The result was very attractive, with a mix of purple, yellow, and red coloured onions in round, oblong, and torpedo-like shapes.
(If you’re wondering why I used a dark vinegar that masks the colour, it’s because I prefer the flavour!)
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