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Old-Fashioned Pickled Onions

Recipe from In a Pickle by Kirsten Day.

These were always a go-to snack when I was growing up, and were stored in a large pottery crock on the sideboard. They are a delicious extra on a cheeseboard or in a cheese sandwich. They need to be started the day before, as they are salted overnight before making.

Makes 2 x 1L Jars


1kg pickling onions, peeled (see Tip)
25g pickling salt (non-iodised)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1L malt vinegar
160g sugar or honey
4 bay leaves


Place the onions into a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the salt, and mix to ensure that the salt is evenly distributed. Cover and leave overnight. (The longer you leave the onions, the softer they will become.)

The next day, rinse the onions well, and pat them dry with a clean paper towel. Place the spices, except the bay leaves, and the vinegar and sugar or honey into a saucepan. Heat to dissolve the sugar, but not to boiling.

Pack the onions into warm, sterilised jars along with 2 bay leaves. Pour over the vinegar and spice liquid to fill the jars, making sure each jar has some pickling spices in it. Check that there are no air pockets. Sterilise a knife under boiling water from an electric kettle, and slide the knife into the jars to release any air pockets.

Seal the jars with sterilised lids and leave to cool. Once cool, label and date the jars, then pop them into a cool, dark place. The onions will be ready to eat after a month, but just keep getting better and better with time.


To make short work of peeling pickling onions, place the onions in a large heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Leave to cool. Once the water is cool, the onions will be much easier to peel.


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Old-Fashioned Pickled Onions