Whenever you find pickling onions, baby onions or shallots then grab them. Pickled onions are a taste of traditional Britain, loved with fish and chips, a pork pie or a ploughman’s lunch. They are easy to make and far superior to anything you find in jars on supermarket shelves.
Traditionally they are pickled in malt vinegar but you can use white wine or cider vinegar, especially if you live in rural Andalucía where malt vinegar doesn’t seem to exist. However, if you do not use malt vinegar then they won’t be the same colour as the ones back in your local chippy.
Peeling the onions is rather fiddly so an easy method is to place them in a bowl pouring over boiling water. After a minute or two, drain and refresh in ice water. Top and tail them before easily rubbing off the skin.
Do not let the onions sit in the water for too long otherwise they have a tendency to go a little mushy. Also dry salt not wet salt (brine) them as we are looking for pickled onion Nirvana… crispy.
Pickling spices. There are no hard and fast rules in my opinion, whatever spices are to hand. Whole black peppercorns, bay leaves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, dried chillies, etc.
500ml vinegar of choice
50 ml runny honey
Firstly, peel the onions and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt making sure that they all get a good covering. Set aside overnight.
The next day bring a pan up to a simmer containing the vinegar, honey and spices in order to combine the honey with the vinegar. About ten minutes, then remove from the heat allowing to cool.
Meanwhile, rinse and dry the onions.
Sterilise a jar in the oven at 120°C for 10 minutes, allow it to cool then pack the onions into it and pour over the pickling liquid. Secure the top and place it in a cool dark place. The pickled onions will be ready in one month and perfect by Christmas.