Pickled Onion Problem

I had a bit of a problem.  Well it was a good problem, but with a knock on effect that turned it into a not so good problem.  But in terms of real life serious problems it is hardly a blip at all so could probably be described as a good problem to have.  I grew my onions too big!

Hunter River White Onions
My enormous (by my ordinary standards) Hunter River White Onions are drying in the dome ready to be eaten in almost every meal.

Normally my harvest is a mixed bag of small, medium and large.  The medium and large ones are set aside for the normal purpose of eating onion and generally end up in every meal in one way or another.  And the small ones get pickled and stored way to provide a deliciously sour crunch to our platters when we entertain, in sandwiches – gosh you can’t beat a simple cheese and pickled onion sandwich or just munched upon whole as a treat stolen from the jar.

Pukekohe Longkeeper vs pickling onions
To be fair this is my biggest Pukekohe Longkeeper onion, but as you can clearly see, this will not fit into a jar!
Peel the onions and sprinkle with salt
The recipe tells us to peel the onions with the handy tip of soaking them in boiling hot water for 20 seconds to make peeling easier. It then said sprinkle half a cup of salt over 1.5kg of onions and then cover with water. In my haste I didn’t see the boiling water bit and I completely missed the covering with water, but my onions were fine. I’ve never been good at following instructions!

The thing is this season my onion crop was a huge success and it grew well…  too well and they were all large or huge.  There were a couple of tiddlers, but certainly not enough to make the effort of pickling them worthwhile.  I was resigned to the fact there would be no pickled onions this year.  To be honest I shouldn’t be complaining as there was that year where my entire onion harvest – which was supposed to be a year’s supply of onions ended up pickled in two medium sized jars.  Some seasons are good for some crops and terrible for others.

Rinse onions in fresh water
After soaking the onions for 24 hours in a non metallic container, rinse them with fresh water.
Determining Volume
This is another spot where the recipe and I parted ways. It says to pack the onions in to sterilised jars and cover with vinegar. However I like to know how much vinegar, so I pack the onions into clean jars, pour in some water, then empty it all out, measuring the amount of liquid needed, then sterilise the jars.

However, while at the grocery store, I noticed bags of pickling onions at a very good price and I couldn’t help myself, and a kilo of onions ended up in my trolley.   I normally just pass through the produce section and often wonder what the checkout staff must think of my seemly unhealthy trolley filled to the brim but bereft of vegetables.

Chilli and peppercorns in vinegar
The recipe suggests adding a chilli and 2 peppercorns to each jar filled with onions and then just pouring the vinegar over but I like to boil the vinegar up with the chilli and peppercorns in with the vinegar. I also added a little bit of sugar to take the edge off the sharp sourness, but not enough to make the onions too sweet – just a few tablespoons.
Filling the Jars
Then I pack the onions into sterile jars and add the boiling vinegar and seal.

I used an old favourite recipe from the reliable Edmonds Cookbook, although I did split the batch and used white vinegar for half of them as more and more of my friends and family struggle with the debilitating effects of gluten and so when they come to visit I like to be able to offer them food on my entertaining platters they don’t need to worry about.  The other half I made with malt vinegar as it is the traditional way to pickle them from my childhood and they taste great that way and invoke such nostalgic memories.

Pickled onions
And there you have it, pickled onions. Although it has to be left for at least 6 weeks before I can enjoy that pickled onion crunch. If you end up with vinegar left over – like I always seem too – in spite of my pre-measuring, it makes a great base for a salad dressing – just add your favourite oil.

So, I am excited to say there will be pickled onions in the very near future, I just need to manage the long wait while they soak in all that good pickling juice!

Come again soon – the garden seems to be doing ok…  for now.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)





6 thoughts on “Pickled Onion Problem

  1. It sounds like all is well in the end. Actually, there is no end just new beginnings. Your onions look great and very healthy. The pickled onions sound delicious and I am glad you picked some up at the grocery store. Thanks for sharing!

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