24 October 2010

Home made pickled onions - whoop!

Our very good friends Laura & David recently let us have a collection of french kilner-style jars along with a monumental jam boiler.

Having the jars has meant that one of hubby's long-standing wants has been satisfied - that of making his own pickled onions.

Having accumulated the acquired wisdom of various websites, together with the small amount of ingredients required, he set to.  The vinegar quantities are a bit of an experiment, as the total quantity needs to be 1 litre but we were keen to achieve the dark brown and flavour that the balsamic brings.  Equally, the spice is completely up to you!

PICKLED ONIONS (makes two 750 ml jars)

Ingredients :

1kg pickling onions
50g salt
900ml pickling vinegar
100ml balsamic vinegar
180g sugar
half a tsp peppercorns
half a tsp coriander seed
a chilli

Method :

1.  Top and tail the onions.

2.  Blanche them in boiling water, with the skins on, for 20 secs.

3.  Put onions into cold water to stop them cooking & peel them under the water to prevent oxidisation and toughening.

4.  Drain the onions and place into a bowl, then sprinkle with 50g salt, cover and leave overnight.

5.  Be amazed at the amount of water that has come from the onions, drain them and thoroughly rinse under cold water and put to dry on kitchen paper.

6.  In a saucepan, combine the pickling vinegar, balsamic vinegar and sugar.  Bring to the boil and turn off the heat, allowing the mixture to cool slightly.

7.  Place onions into clean sterilized jars with peppercorns, coriander seed, a chilli and anything else you like.

8.  Pour in vinegar to the top of the jar to cover the onions, seal and leave for at least 1 week, but they get better the longer you leave them.

Roll on Christmas! 


  1. Peeling! You have to peel the blasted onions! It takes ages and ages! It's 2010, can't we get pre-peeled onions yet?

    I admit I'm bitter about the whole pickled onion thing. I used to make my own especially for the Boxing Day cold meat and pickle scenario, but twice now I've nearly (genuinely!) choked to death on pickled onions. So I'm now sworn off the little blighters,yet here you come tempting me with talk of using balsamic vinegar! Maybe if I bought REALLY small onions...

  2. AND.......That's why their called pickled onions,
    Because you get into a pickle make'in them. :)
    MY, Grandfather, who lived until he was 106.
    Would turn in his grave....Sorry.....Blanche the onions,put into cold water, spinkle with salt...
    No...No....No.....Sorry! You English, always want to do something with food before you pickle it. Even my Dad, only grew onions/shallots for pickle'in, never touch or did anything to them. AND, shallots, in my opinion, are far better to pickle than onions. For the flavour, taste etc......!
    There...l've had my dig for the day.....Back to the footy.....! :0).

  3. The blanching of the onions has two purposes. Firstly, it makes them very very easy to peel (as they are only in for 20 seconds) and secondly, it prevents oxidisation which helps stops the outer layers of skin from becoming tough. A nicely crisp pickle should result.

    The salting is of course to draw excess water from the onions prior to pickling, which helps the vinegar to penetrate the onion. If you used ordinary vinegar on a plain raw onion, the result would be fairly weak unless perhaps you left them for a very long time to mature.

    Didn't I read somewhere that in Scicily, pickled lemons are salted first?

    Sorry to make your gramps spin, but thats the science of the thing.

    I agree with you about shallots though. They do have a far superior flavour but unfortunately at triple the cost.

  4. Absolutely Correct.....ChilliBob...!
    Choose ripe unblemished lemons, or limes.
    Wash them and make two deep vertical cuts in a cross, almost, but not quite through them.
    Sprinkle plenty of salt inside the cut flesh, say 4oz.
    Then put them in a sterilized jar, and really jam them in, tightly.
    Squeeze enough fresh lemon juice over them, so that their covered.
    The salt draws out the juice and the peel will soften within a week.
    Ready to use in 3 to 4 weeks.
    Rinse off the salt and discard the flesh; it is the peel alone that is used for flavouring.
    So,unlike the onions that are eaten, the lemons are thrown away.

  5. Writerscript : maybe if you didn't try to eat the whole pickled onion in one go? *chuckle* All I can tell you is that pickled onions done in balsamic are just sublime. You really should risk personal harm and try some. LOL

    Willie & Chillibob : I'm loving the idea of preserved lemons - many's the time I've found them used in recipes and have had to abandon the recipe for lack of a preserved lemon!


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