I've been meaning to make these for a while as a good project for long-storing vegetables when there's nothing fresh and local, but I hadn't found the ambition. Then, a couple of weeks ago I had a steak salad that was topped with delicate slices of pickled red onions. A very nice touch, especially since I often find fresh red onion in a salad overpowering. I skimmed a bunch of recipes and MacGyvered my own based on the spices that appealed to me. So here we are.
- 3 lbs red onions (I was a bit short on reds, so I supplemented with a couple of small cooking onions we had on hand)
- 4 cups red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 4 T salt
- 6 pint (500 ml) jars
- 6 snap lids and rings
And per jar:
- 5 peppercorns
- 2 whole allspice
- 1/4 t celery seed
- 1 t whole mustard seed
- 1 bay leaf
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Wash your jars in hot, sudsy water. Rinse well. They'll get sterile in the water bath.
- Peel and slice onions thinly into half moons. For the first slice, the mandoline was set at 1/4 " and that was way too thick. I ended up between 1/16" and 1/32". (What is that, 3/64 of an inch? I think my brain just broke.) Anyway, thin.
- Start heating the water in your canner now, so it'll be getting hot when you need it.
- Place your chosen spices into each jar. Lots of options for spices in different recipes, and some advocated for no spices at all. I went with a medley of favourites.
- Stuff your onion slices evenly into each jar. Pack them in pretty tight. You'll get shrinkage and it'll be more roomy once you add the brine.
- Combine water, vinegar, sugar, and salt into a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Put your snap lids in hot water to soften.
- Using a ladle and wide mouth funnel, fill your jars with brine to within 1/4 inch of the jar's rim.
- "Bubble" each jar with a skewer or chopstick to release any trapped air. Wipe each rim with a clean damp paper towel. Place a heated snap lid down and screw the ring on finger tip tight.
- Put the jars into your water bath canner. Make sure there is at least an inch of water above the top of your jars. Put the pot lid on and return to the boil for 10 minutes. Don't start your timer until the water is boiling.
- Remove jars from the canner.
- Admire and wait for the pops. If any jars don't seal properly, they'll keep for quite a long while in the fridge.
Edited to add that the spice choices have turned out to be good ones! I thought they would be, but I'm relieved to say that they actually are for sure. So far these onions have been enjoyed on fish tacos, meatball subs, and (at least by Dave) mixed with yellow mustard as some weird sort of side dish. Chacun à son goût!