Perfect Pickled Onions

Perfect Pickled Onions

The rite of passage as a ‘preserver’ comes once you are willing to tackle the pickled onion. It isn’t complicated but will test your patience both in the time it takes to peel the onions and how long you have to wait for the first crunch of your home-made perfect pickled onions; but boy, is it worth it. Making them now (September) means they will be bang-on, come Boxing Day.)

I will let you into my secret:

To speed up the preparation of the onions, top and tail them, place them in a large heat-proof bowl, and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave to cool and – hey presto – a little rub and the skins will fall away. But don’t leave them in the water once cool, or the onions will start to go mushy.


1 kg pickling onions, peeled (see above)

27g salt

1-litre malt vinegar

170g sugar

For the Spices:

4 tsp pickling spices or ½ tsp coriander seeds, ½ tsp mustard seed, ½ tsp black peppercorns, ½ tsp dried chilli flakes

Sprinkle the salt over the peeled onions, stir 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, sterilised 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 and slowly turn into perfect pickled onions. 

The onions will be ready to eat after about a month to six weeks, but better if kept for three months. Once opened, store in a refrigerator.

Credit: © Elaine Lemm