After the success (I hope) of making pickled onions last week, I've been keen to make some more, so hopefully we've got enough to last us the whole of next year. I picked up a 5kg sack of pickling onions from the local fruit and veg shop, along with 5 litres of malt vinegar, the plan being to try out some different mixes of spices and flavours.
This recipe makes sweet pickled onion which may suit those who don't like too much of the sharp taste of vinegar.
It uses the recipe for sweet pickling vinegar, of which I made 2.5 litres, as I only used 1 litre I have scaled the costs and spices below down accordingly. You could get away with only making a litre and topping up some of the jars with malt vinegar (or any other sort - balsamic might be nice).
See here for the recipe for sweet pickling vinegar.
£1.87 2.5kg pickling onions
£0.19 500g salt
£0.17 180g granulated sugar
£0.75 1 litre malt vinegar
£0.04 1 blade of mace
£0.05 15 cloves
£0.05 15 allspice berries
£0.17 1 cinnamon stick
£0.11 2 heads star anise
£0.04 1 tsp peppercorns
£0.05 5 g fresh ginger
£1.39 per kg of onions (about quarter the cost of traditional pickled onions (not budget ones) from tesco)
Making pickled onions takes a bit of time, and needs to be done over a few days, that said each step is not that time consuming, I did this batch over two evenings while cooking the tea. The first step is to make the spiced vinegar, which means selecting a bowl full of spices (around 15g - 30g per litre of vinegar).
You can put them in a Spice Bag or just make sure you strain the vinegar carefully afterward. Add the spices and sugar to the vinegar and bring it slowly to the boil stirring to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Then turn off the heat, cover, and let it stand at least overnight for the flavours to develop. This fills the kitchen with a wonderful spicy smell, although it is a bit vinegary.
The second step is topping and tailing and then peeling the onions. This is the most time consuming task although you can loosen the skins by scalding the top and tailed onions in boiling water for 20 seconds then draining. Be careful not to leave them in the water too llong as they will start to soften.
The peeled onions are then put in a bowl and mixed with the salt, this draws out some of the water (by osmosis - diffusion of water through a semi-permeable membrane - remember that from school?) Leave these covered overnight, giving them a stir before going to bed, it's amazing how much water this produces, and it will help make the onions crunchy and preserve better.
No photos of osmosis action, but there are some in my last post about pickled onions.
The next day rinse the onions with very cold water, to get rid of the salt, and pack them in sterilised jars.
Strain the vinegar, unless you want to leave some of the spices in for decoration, I couldn't resist popping a star anise in each jar. I figured it would help me remember which jars contained the sweet onions.
Pour over the cold vinegar, it's important to cover the top onions with at least a 1 cm of vinegar as some may evaporate during storage.
The pickles should be kept in a cool dark place for a few months to allow the flavours to mature.
30 mins peeling and salting
10 mins preparing vinegar
overnight salting and cooling
15 mins potting
These have a very strong flavour, which I can only think comes from leaving the star anise in the jar. I'll leave it out next time..