Marlon remembers his Grandparents making pickled onions when he was growing up, but it was only as he got older that he began to appreciate just how tasty they are! Every year he makes a few small adjustments to the heirloom recipe, sharing notes with his brother (who is also an avid pickler) and perfecting the family staple. I just watch on enviously, as sadly I can’t even eat onions!
This recipe uses small brown onions which we usually buy by the bag full when they’re in season. These onions go beautifully on a cheese plate, in a sandwich, a salad or just eaten on their own straight from the jar!
Ingredients (Makes Approx 2-3 large jars)
1kg of small brown onions
3 Tbsp of sea salt
4 Tbsp of brown sugar
750ml of malt vinegar (3 cups)
6 Bay leaves
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste.
35g packet of pickling spice (typically includes mustard seeds, black peppercorns, dill
seeds, allspice whole) or choose your own favourite mix of spices which may include
2 Tbsp whole mustard seeds.
1 Tbsp whole allspice berries.
2 tsp whole coriander seeds.
1 tsp cloves.
Peel outer layer of small onions keeping whole, or cutting larger ones into halves. Cover onions in sea salt, stir in a bowl and refrigerate overnight to draw out moisture for a crisper pickled onion.
Rinse onions the following day with cold water to remove salt.
Make pickling brine in a saucepan by combining malt vinegar, sugar and all of the remaining spice ingredients, stir and heat until simmering.
Pack onions into clean sterilised jars, pour hot brine over onions making sure spices are evenly distributed and all of the onions have been covered with liquid. Place the lid on the jar and while the brine is hot, turn the jar upside down and leave overnight. The heat from the liquid should seal the jar shut.
Store in a cool dark place for up to a year, onions will be ready to eat after one month but will be tastier the longer they are stored.