It’s that time of month again – time for Tigress’ Can Jam (12 months, 12 ingredients and more than 100 canners).  This month’s ingredient was alliums – one of my faves.  We still have some of last year pickled garlic as well as small pickled pearl onions (from my smallest batch of the year last year) so it was time to put the thinking hat on and make a batch of pickled onions.

Today’s post is on the first of 3 different pickles we made – the other two will come tomorrow.

This was a really simple recipe based on English pub food.  I see myself eating them with an old cheddar, added to a salad (perhaps a topping to some pasta sauces) and definitely on sandwiches – the mighty hamburger being the most welcome pairing.

I was really excited to get Ontario Onions direct from a farmer (our friend Mark Trealout from Kawartha Ecological Growers) at the Wychwood Barns farmers market in Toronto (Saturday mornings).  Thee onions were beautiful and I came home with way too many (intentionally) and have been eating onions all week.

For our pickles, we sliced them using a mandolin.  It’s a very gratifying process and I’ll have to post more about my passionate love affair with my mandolin soon.

The onions were blanched in boiling water for 20 seconds and cooled down with water as quickly as I could.  They were then layered with salt and spent the night in the fridge to allow the salt to pull moisture from the cell structure of the onions.

On the second day, a thorough rinsing of the onions is needed – they will taste overly salty otherwise.

The brine is heavy on vinegar and briefly infuses flavors of pepper , bay leaves and chillies but none make it to the jar.  This is a pickle to highlight the onion – and the vinegar it bathes in (a combination of malt and cider).  When working with vinegar such as these you want to ensure that the acid content is at least 5% (the bottle will say and if it doesn’t; move on).


  • 3 pounds onions
  • 2 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • Several chilli peppers
  • fresh ginger (we shaved about a teaspoon worth with our peeler)
  • several bay leaves
  • 2.5 cups malt vinegar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Place the dried ingredients in a jelly bag (or cook them in a pot and strain out before adding liquid to the jars).  We tie them in a few layers of cheesecloth and find a few of the smallest seeds sneak through the mesh but the strainer takes care of them.

Simmer your ingredients for 5 minutes, add onions to jars and cover with hot liquid.  As was shared yesterday I should have warmed my onions up with hot water when I rinsed them to avoid breaking jars.

We are left with 2 jars of this (we did about 1.5 pounds of onions and yielded 3 jars that are 500 ml each (pre breakage).

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