Pickling Onions

Pickling Onions

Pickled onions are a national british treasure – everyone loves them. They are eaten with fish and chips, on a Ploughman’s Lunch, pies, and many other savory dishes. There are hundreds of commercial varieties but nothing beats a jar of homemade pickled onions.

Tiny pickling or buttons onions are available in the autumn and if prepared and stored are perfect by Boxing Day to eat with cold meats or pork pie.

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Requires overnight soaking: 24 hours

Total Time: 25 hours, 15 minutes


2¼ lbs/ 1 kg pickling onions, peeled (see note below)
4 tsp pickling spices or
½ tsp coriander seeds, ½ tsp mustard seed, ½ tsp black peppercorns, ½ tsp dried chili flakes
1 oz / 27g salt
35 fl oz/ 1 litre malt vinegar
6 oz/ 170g sugar

NOTE: Peeling pickling onions is fiddly and time consuming. To speed up the process top and tail the onions, then place the onions in a large heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave to cool, and once the water is cool, hey presto, the skins will just rub away. Drain and pat the onions dry. Do not leave in the water once cool or the onions will start to go mushy.

Sprinkle the salt over the dry, peeled onions, stir to make sure the salt is distributed and leave overnight. Next day (do not leave longer than overnight if you want your onions to be crisp) rinse the onions and dry with kitchen towel.

Place the spices, vinegar and sugar into a large stainless steel pan. Heat to dissolve the sugar but do not boil.

Pack the onions into clean, sterilized jars. Pour over the vinegar and spice liquid to fill the jars, make sure each jar has pickling spices in and check there are no air pockets. Seal the jars and leave to cool.

The onions will be ready to eat after about one month or better if kept for two. Once opened store in a refrigerator.

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