Pickled onions just say Christmas to me. It is the only time of the year that I eat them. I have not made my own for about 25 years but, this year, I had some kilner jars in the cupboard, from my failed experiment with salad in a jar, back in the summer, so I thought I would put them to good use. It is not easy to find pickling onions in Berlin and shallots are pretty expensive to buy in bulk. I was lucky to find small onions in Aldi last week for 99 cents per half kilo bag.
You can experiment with the vinegar you use. I used cheap white wine vinegar but you can use malt vinegar if you want a stronger flavour or even raspberry or balsamic. These latter options are more costly.
To make the onions easier to peel, cover them in boiling water and then pour off and cover with cold water. The skins come off more easily but it is still a labour of love. I sat at the kitchen table on Friday night watching Grand Designs on the Macbook and was quite content.
Quantities are not exact as the size of onions varies as do jars.
Makes about 3 litre jars
2kg small onions
2 litres vinegar
Teaspoon of black peppercorns
Teaspoon of coriander seeds
Teaspoon of mustard seeds
10 whole, small green chillies or more to your taste
Peel the onions and place them in a large washing up bowl. Cover with cold water and add the salt. Stir to dissolve salt. Cover with a large, saucepan lid and weigh down with 4 large tins. Leave to soak overnight.
The next morning rinse the onions well and pat dry. Combine the vinegar, sugar and spices in a stainless steel or enamelled saucepan and bring to the boil, dissolving the sugar. Turn off the heat and leave to completely cool.
Sterilise the jars either with a sterilising tablet or wash in hot, soapy water, rinse well and place in a hot oven for 5 minutes to dry. Let the jars cool and pack tightly with the onions, adding the chillies as you go. Pour on the cooled vinegar. You can either remove or keep the spices in the vinegar, as you wish.
Seal the jars and store for 6 weeks before eating.