Sweet onion pickles

June 14, 2011

Just a quickie post this time, because it’s canning season again, and I’m getting busy. My season starts with strawberries and other lovelies from California (mostly just halving and freezing to buy sweet time), but it’s also a great time for pickling the early birds. Since canning season means more al fresco dining, I think a sweet pickled red onion is just the thing.

Farmers’ markets in Portland are purging the last of the vernal goodies, and purple spring onions and sweet brine make swell bedfellows. Rows of rosy pink jars are an instant gratifier on a freshly-dusted pantry shelf.

Here’s what to do: Peel and thinly slice (1/8″ is not too ambitious) two pounds of red onions. While you’re doing all that slicing, get your brine boiling. The brine is two cups apple cider vinegar, a half cup water, one tablespoon kosher salt and 3/4 cup sugar. I add a teaspoon each of white mustard seed, peppercorns and coriander seed, a half teaspoon of celery and caraway seed, plus I add two cloves and a bay leaf to each of the four wide mouth pint jars. Stuff the onion slices in as tightly as possible without crushing them and pour the hot, spiced brine over the top. Wipe the rims and properly and tightly affix the lids, then process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes (starting the timer after the water returns to a boil, natch).

The hot brine takes the edge off the onions, and though the natural sweetness of the onions is enhanced, these pickles do not cloy. I boorishly ate half a jar of these with country pâté on a bagel, I admit it. My new favorite lunch is a cheese and sweet onion pickle sandwich on rye, but these are also wonderful on a hot dog or a steak taco. They pair well with salmon and rosé, and not just aesthetically. They are pretty in pink, and a perfect way to kick off any canning season.

9 Responses to Sweet onion pickles

  1. lo
    June 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I’ve got my sites on getting into more serious canning endeavors this year, and the thought of sweet pickled onions has my tastebuds dancing around in my mouth. Bet these would be great on a roast beef sandwich…

  2. Shetha
    June 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I need to just get off my ass and do this canning thing. Always so intimidated by it, but can it really be so difficult? Probably not. Shut up, Brain!!!

  3. June 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Lo and Shetha – if you make any pickle this year, let it be this one. They’re good on so many things, and so fast. This is a great intro to canning! (Shetha, I can show you how to do it if you want to come over some afternoon – I’m putting up a few dozen of these for the Interdependence Day Craft Fair on July 2. Lemme know.)

  4. June 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    i’m doing this. really, i’m going to! i love ‘em on tacos.

  5. June 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Mmmmmm! Now this I can easily do! Def would be great on a rare roast beef sandwich!

  6. roger
    June 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Why does it turn pink ? I absolutely love onion. Thank you…………

  7. June 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    These are so-o-o good. I have never canned before, but I may have to start. I don’t suppose there’s a refrigerator version? I’m intimidated by canning.

  8. Hannah Rubenstahl
    June 18, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I just whipped some of these up! :-) Thank you for such an exciting recipe. These make my first “pickle” in the whole canning world I’ve recently entered into! :-)