Pickled onions have almost attained national treasure status. Fish ‘n’ chips, a ploughman’s lunch and various pies just don’t taste the same without the accompaniment of a pickled onion – and they’re great with ice cream if you’re pregnant!
Make your mouth water even more by making your own pickled onion jars. Be ready for autumn’s perfect small pickling onions, which will be sheer magic on Boxing Day to spice up the leftover turkey and other cold meats. You’ll need to stock up with some pickled onion jars and some vinegar, plus a selection of spices.
Filling your own pickled onion jars
- 1kg pickling onions, peeled
- 2 teaspoons pickling spices (½ teaspoon each of coriander seeds, mustard seeds, black peppercorns and dried chilli flakes, for example)
- 25g salt
- 1 litre malt or pickling vinegar
- 170g caster sugar
Peel the onions by topping and tailing and steeping in boiling water for a few minutes to make the skins easier to remove.
Sprinkle the salt over the peeled onions and stir to make sure it is evenly distributed. Leave overnight to make sure your onions stay nice and crisp, then rinse and pat dry.
Add the vinegar, sugar and spices to a large, stainless steel pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves but do not allow the mixture to boil.
Fill your clean, sterilised pickled onion jars with the onions, then fill to the top with the pickling liquid. Seal the jars and allow to cool. Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month, ideally two, before eating. Once opened, store the pickled onions in the refrigerator.
Sterilising your pickled onion jars
As always when making pickles, chutneys or jams, it is essential to use clean, sterilised jars to make sure your produce keeps and to avoid potentially dangerous illnesses – particularly embarrassing if you’re giving your pickles as a gift!
Don’t sterilise your jars ahead of time, as it’s best if they are still warm when filled. The easiest way to sterilise is to put your jars through the dishwasher on a hot setting. Alternatively, put your clean jars in the oven at 130ºC for 20-30 minutes.
You can also sterilise in the microwave. Leave the jars wet after washing and microwave on high for about 30 seconds.
Having sterilised your jars, don’t make the mistake of using dirty old lids. Use fresh, new lids and wax discs to obtain a proper seal to avoid contaminating your produce.