My Great Grandmother's Pickled Onion Recipe
She was my great grandmother.
For this post I will share with you her recipe for pickled onions - a vintage recipe that dates back to the 1930s and has not been written down before. It’s a tradition in my family to make these onions in November, just in time for Christmas. So get your skates on.
It's delightfully basic. It produces onions of intense flavour with a loud crunch. They’ll be ready in six weeks, and can be enjoyed for the next 12 months.
A word of warning. When you are making them, your kitchen, and possibly most of your house, will make your eyes water.
You will need
1 - Glass storage jars, the Kilner type are best. My family tends to use 2 litre ones. They should be clean and sterilised.
2 - A bag of "Onions for Pickling" – not shallots, do you hear? Onions should be evenly sized, with the largest no bigger than a golf ball.
3 - Standard malt vinegar (enough to fill your jars, of course). Don’t get vinegar with any poncey spices added.
4 – Table salt and white sugar.
|Elizabeth Terrace in Glasinfryn where Nanan lived. This was sketched by my father (The English Boy) from Nanan's front door. The house my mother grew up in is the last on the right. This sketch was done in 1963 when my dad was 18|
What to do
1 - Remove the skin from the onions and top and tail them.
2 - Place your onions in your jars till they reach the top (they do shrink a little when pickled).
3 - Add a tablespoon of salt per litre and let it cascade over the onions. Then pour water over the top, to wash the salt through. Seal the lid and tip the jar upside down to get a good briney mix.
5 - Leave for 24 hours.
6 - Put an open hand over the jar and drain out the salt water. Then put the jar under the tap and flood with clean water to rinse the onions whilst they're in the jar (again using an open hand to stop them bobbing out).
7 - Pour the vinegar into the jars until about ¾ full. What you are doing here is seeing how much vinegar you need: that vinegar’s not stopping in the jar, it’s going into a saucepan. So do that next.
8 – The smelly bit. Put the pan of vinegar on full heat and add 1 tablespoon of sugar per litre. Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar has disappeared. When the vinegar has boiled remove from heat and leave to cool, or put the pan in a sink of cold water to rapid cool.
9 – When vinegar is cool, pour it into the jars up to the ¾ level.
10 – Then use cooled boiled water to top-up the remaining ¼ of the jar.
Leave for six weeks and give them a bite! They should be crisp and strong.
They'll be good for the next 12 months too. Hope you enjoy them as much as my family has over the years.
Invitation to Comment
Do please tell me if you have any family recipes; are they still made?
If you could have one day back, to spend with a lost Grandparent, how would you spend it?
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