A few years ago I came across this great recipe for easily pickling onions. I had most of the ingredients and a few 12140806_10153621677611774_5216489960874278724_n
hours to spare, so I went for it. Now lads, I swear, these shallots were delicious, and got better and better with age. The shallots were nice and crunchy and the flavour of the vinegar pierced through. They’d be fantastic with a bit of strong cheddar, or sliced up in a sandwich or on top of a burger. I’m drooling even thinking about them now!

I found the recipe again (links at the bottom) so a couple of weeks ago I made them again, and I’m really excited about getting stuck into them again!

They’re very easy to make once you can set aside some time, and I think they would make excellent homemade gifts around this time of year in smaller jars for any foodies in your life.

The Spiced Vinegar

This is what you’ll cover the onions in, and you can use it to pickle pretty much anything else, too. The measurements are only approximate, so won’t worry about getting them exactly right. I had them in my press, and picked up what I didn’t have in the shop. I couldn’t find any mustard seeds so I had to do without. I used:

  • 1/2 tsp dill
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 Black peppercorns
  • A few bay leaves
  • A large bottle (1 pint) of Chef Distilled Malt Vinegar

Mix all the ingredients in a heatproof mixing bowl, and place this bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. After
a few minutes, turn the heat off, but leave the bowl of vinegar on top of the hot water. The flavours will infuse into the vinegar as it heats up. Once the vinegar has cooled down it’s ready to use. You can strain it so the ingredients are removed, but I like to keep them in.

Preparing the Shallots

Boil about a litre of water and dissolve a load of table salt into it. I used about a third (~250g) of a large table salt tub. Allow the brine to cool completely.

One and a half bags of shallots from a supermarket will do the job for a big jar of pickled onions. Cut the ends off the shallots and peel the skin off. You can also take off the first layer of onion if you want, as this can still be a bit tougher than the inner layers, and will get tougher as the pickle ages.

Put the shallots into a deep bowl, and pour the brine over them. The shallots will float, so keep them under the surface of the brine with a plate or similar resting on top of them. I just put the shallots into the jar they’d pickle in, topped it up with brine, and weighed them down with a mug. Leave them like this for a full day.

Making the Pickle

Put the brined shallots or onions into a sterilised Kilner jar (or similar; I got my jar for I think €4.50 in Tesco).

Carefully pour the spiced vinegar over them so that they’re covered. If there’s enough salt in them, they should sink. If not, they’ll float, but don’t worry if they do. Close up the jar and turn it upside down a couple of times so that the ingredients of the vinegar spread through the jar. Do this once or twice a week.

Leave the shallots to pickle in the vinegar for about a month, at which point they’re good to use. Indeed, you can taste one as a sample before this, so you can compare how the pickling process works in that first month. Some people say to consume them within a month or so, but I found they stay well preserved for several months. Use your best judgement on this!

I got this recipe from:

  • http://www.allotment-garden.org/recipe/157/quick-spiced-vinegar-recipe/
  • http://www.allotment-garden.org/recipe/355/pickled-onion-recipe/

It’s a good site with loads of ideas, so do check it out.