Pickling onions is pretty easy and is a good place to start if you're just beginning to try your hand at pickling and home canning.

Here's a recipe I got from a Bernardin home preserving cook book, with a couple modifications of my own. This recipe assumes you know some of the basics of pickling.

Ingredients
  • 2 kg small or pearl onions
  • 4 tbsp, 2 tsp pickling salt (non-iodized) separated
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 5 hot peppers (optional)
  • cheese cloth

Making the brine
First, peel the outer skin off the onions. If you can't peel them off without taking too much onion with them, blanch them and immediately plunge them in ice water. The skins will slip right off.

Trim the ends off the onions.

Mix the onions with 4 tbsp of pickling salt and let them stand overnight in a stainless steel pot.

The next day, rinse the salt off the onions and pat them dry with paper towel.

Mix the allspice, mustard seeds and peppercorns and tie into a pouch using the cheese cloth. Instead of this mixture you can also buy "Picking Spice", which is basically the same thing but includes some additional spices like cloves.

Combine the vinegar, sugar and 2 tsp of salt in a pot. Tie the spice pouch with some string and hang it in the pot. The point here is that you want the spice in the mixture, but you want to be able to remove them easily too.

Bring the brine to a boil and then add the onions to the mixture. Boil for 2 minutes and then reduce heat.

Pickling
At this point you can follow the usual method for pickling anything with a boiling water home canning setup.

Fill each jar with onions and top up with the hot brine to within a 1/2 inch or 1 cm from the rim of the jar.

Tap the jar on the counter or use a non-metallic spatula to remove as many air bubbles from the jar as possible.

Wipe the rim of the jar to ensure a good seal between the glass and lid.

Seal the jars using a SNAP lid and process for 5 minutes.

Store in a cool, dark place. Store for at least 6 weeks but use within 1 year.

Almost forgot: You can add a bay leaf to each jar before sealing, if you're so inclined. You can also add a hot pepper to each jar if you like 'em a bit spicy.

Makes 5 500ml jars.

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