At last pickling onions are available again. My daughter managed to find a fruit and vegetable market that supplied her with a 20 kilo bag. She has since made them into a variety of flavours, using different spices and vinegars. In winter there really is nothing like a bowl of hot soup and a plate of pickled onions and a really good (Tasmanian) cheese. The recipe to follow is the basic one I always use – Stephanie used a commercial picklng vinegar with one batch, dark malt vinegar with another and white vinegar with her own spices added to another.
If you don’t fancy peeling the onions because they make you cry, you could try (husband) Robert’s method. He peels them for me each year, setting hiimself up outside on a benchtop, with the wind blowing the offending fumes away on the breeze.
Even if you only make a couple of kilos, it is well worth the effort – your household can have its own signature version of pickled onions all year round (they keep very well). Use the following recipe as a basis only – vary the spices according to taste or omit them altogether, add some chilli flakes if you like – add more or less sugar and so on.
4 cups water
100g cooking salt
1 to 1.5kg pickling onions
4 cups white or cider vinegar (you can use dark malt if you want)
15g allspice berries, optional
15g coriander seeds, optional
15g cardamom pods, optional
1-2 sticks cinnamon, optional
A few cloves
4 bay leaves
¾ cup sugar (or to taste)
To make brining solution, combine water and salt in a large stainless steel saucepan and heat until salt is dissolved. Allow to cool, add onions and weigh down with a plate or similar and set aside for 24 hours.
Next day make the spiced vinegar. Combine vinegar, spices and sugar in a saucepan and bring to just below boiling point. Cover saucepan with a lid, then leave to infuse for at least 3 hours. Strain through a colander or sieve lined with a double thickness of muslin (or tea towel). Set aside to cool.
Drain onions from brining solution, rinse well and pat dry with a paper towel. Pack onions into sterilised jars to within 2.5cm of top of each jar.
Pour cooled spiced vinegar over onions, ensuring that onions are completely covered. If onions float to the surface, place a crumpled piece of baking paper in top of each jar and press into the vinegar, making sure there are no air pockets underneath. After a few days this can be removed as onions will have absorbed the vinegar and should stay submerged.
Seal immediately and store in a cool, dry and dark place for 1 month before using.