Pickled onions are a national treasure in Great Britain - everyone loves them. Pickled onions appear on fish and chips, a Ploughman's Lunch, with pies, and just about every savoury dish where we can. There are hundreds of commercial varieties groaning on the supermarket shelves, but nothing beats a jar of homemade pickled onions.
I will not pretend that, though easy to make, the process of pickling onions can be quite tedious. So, like me, put the radio on or prop the i-pad up and catch a little music while you are doing it. It is so worth the effort I promise. You will lighten the load if you read the note in the recipe about peeling onions; it will save you hours.
Tiny pickling or buttons onions are mainly available in the autumn and if prepared and stored early autumn, are perfect by Boxing Day to eat with cold meats or pork pie. They will keep almost year round on a pantry shelf with no need to refrigerate.
- 25g (1oz) salt
- 1 kg (2¼ lbs) pickling onions, peeled (see note below)
- 4 teaspoon pickling spices or
- MAKE YOUR OWN SPICE MIX
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, +
- ½ teaspoon mustard seed +
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns +
- ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- FOR THE PICKLING
- 1 litre (35 fl oz) malt vinegar
- 170g (6 oz) sugar
The Easy Way to Peel Pickling Onions:
Peeling pickling onions is fiddly and time-consuming. To speed up the process, top and tail the onions, then place the onions in a large heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Leave to cool, and once the water is cool, hey presto, the skins will just rub away. Then, drain and pat the onions dry. Do not leave in the water once cool or the onions will start to go mushy when you preserve them.
Once dried, proceed with the recipe:
Pickled Onion Recipe
- Sprinkle the salt over the dry, peeled onions, stir to make sure the salt is distributed and leave overnight. Next day (do not leave longer than overnight if you want your onions to be crisp) rinse the onions and dry with kitchen towel.
- Place the spices, vinegar and sugar into a large stainless steel pan. Heat to dissolve the sugar but do not boil.
- Pack the onions into clean, sterilized jars. Pour over the vinegar and spice liquid to fill the jars, make sure each jar has pickling spices in and check there are no air pockets. Seal the jars and leave to cool.
- The onions will be ready to eat after about one month or better if kept for two. Once opened store in a refrigerator.
A 1 lb jar will contain approx 10 servings depending on the size of the onions.