Crunchy in texture, tangy yet sweet in taste, this recipe for spicy pickled onions comes packed with a punch and are perfect with cheese, chips or simply just for snacking on.
I was hoping to get this video recipe up before the pickling onion season was over but a neck injury meant editing for long periods for time became a bit of a struggle. Fear not, pickling doesn’t just have to stop at pickled onions and if you’re struggling to find them I’m positive this recipe will work with various pickling vegetables, shallots or sliced onions. Tasty as a winter warmer, this recipe will also work great spicing up a salad in the warmer weather – either way, give it a go, get creative and enjoy.
You will need
A Deep Pan With a Lid
2kg Pickling Onions
Malt Pickling Vinegar (I used Sarson’s Vinegar)
Two Red Chilli’s
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Pickling Spices per 600ml of Vinegar
2 Tablespoons of Juniper Berries
A Bay Leaf for Each Jar
2 Cinnamon Sticks
4 Tablespoons of Light Brown Sugar
1.4 Litres of Malt Pickling Vinegar
Extras you can add
Cloves, peppercorns, chilli flakes
Top and tail the pickling onions and put them in a deep pan.
Boil the kettle and fill pan to cover the onions, wait 30 minutes so that the skin peels off with ease. If you’re feeling brave, feel free to skip this stage and peel the onions as you would normally, although it might be handy to have some tissues nearby just in case.
Drained of water, put onions back into the pan and cover with salt. Add cold water to make a brine and leave overnight. Brining them might seem like a pain but I assure you it’s worth the wait, especially for the crunch you’ll get from the onions. Be sure to put the lid on the pan at this point otherwise your kitchen will stink.
Get someone to pull the lid off the pan and watch them wince at the strong smell, laugh at them and then drain the onions and leave to one side.
Chop your red chilli’s into slices and crush the cloves of garlic, as I knew how many jars I was filling I chopped them evenly so each jar would have equal amounts. Add them to a pan deep enough to hold 1.4 litres of malt pickling vinegar as well as the ingredients.
Measure out 4 tablespoons of pickling spices and 2 tablespoons of juniper berries. Crush two sticks of cinnamon and take a bay leaf for each jar, add these to the pan. Finally, add 4 tablespoons of light brown sugar, which will help balance out the sharp flavours.
At this point you could also add a teaspoon of cloves and peppercorns as well as some chilli flakes for a more intense flavour.
Add the pickling vinegar to the pan and leave on a medium heat. Bring the vinegar and spices to a gentle boil and be sure the sugar has dissolved before taking it off to cool. Cooling may take a couple of hours, I had to leave mine until the next day because filming the recipe took longer than I had expected so in that time I ensured my onions were covered with cold water again to remain fresh.
Before creating jars of pickled goodness, you will need to sterilise the jars just before filling them. Pre heat the oven to 160-180ºC and clean out the jars in hot soapy water, place them upside down, without drying them, on a roasting or baking tray and pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
Once the jars are safe and germ free, it’s now time to add the onions. It’s best to do this in layers, so I added a bottom layer of onions then added the vinegar and a spoonful of spices and repeated this until the jar was nearly full. Be sure to add all the spices to the jars because this is where all the flavour will come from. You could also add some chilli flakes at this stage if you enjoy the heat.
Leave the jars in a cool place and wait up to 6 weeks, some recipes say up to 2 weeks but I find 6 weeks is the perfect time because the spices get to stew and mature.
As I had some vinegar left over I added it to a bottle to use as vinegar in other recipes but you could also experiment and pickle some other vegetables if you fancied it.