In England, pickled onions tend to be crunchy and packed-to-bursting with flavor. This is largely due to the way in which they are prepared and various ingredients in which they are pickled. Sad to relate, the pickled onions I've found thus far in America tend to be on the soft-ish side and lack a little something on the taste-test front.
Fortunately, my mother leapt to the rescue some time ago with a rather good recipe. Having made numerous batches myself, I posted this little number on the Internet, and I have since received extremely positive feedback from British expatriates around the world. And it's not just us "Brits" who enjoy these little scamps. Whenever I make a new batch, I typically pack a load of jars that I share with family and friends who seem to really like them (or maybe they are simply being kind).
In fact, as fate would have it, I received an email just the other day from a guy located somewhere in America saying that he'd just started sampling his first batch (you have to wait a couple of weeks after bottling them) and he was delighted with the result. So I thought I might share this little beauty with a wider audience as follows:
Note: Beware! If you're under 21, male, or a politician, don't attempt to do anything on the culinary front without your mother's permission and supervision, because kitchens contain sharp things, hot things, and a variety of other potentially dangerous things!
Note: As to quantities, who can say? I can tell you the relative quantities ("so much of this to so much of that"), but as to the actual quantities, this all depends on how many jars of the little rascals you intend to lay away. In fact you'll find that this is one of those slippery recipes that you sort of "grow into" (you'll see what I mean as we proceed). All we can say is to remember that "2 teaspoons = 1 dessertspoon" and "2 dessertspoons = 1 tablespoon," and then purchase as much of the following ingredients as you think you'll need (you'll also need an appropriate supply of small-ish mason jars or similar):
- A bag of firm, medium-to-large yellow onions.
- A couple of heads of garlic.
- Some tins of Colman's English Mustard (the yellow powder type)
- A handful of habaneros (hot peppers)
- Hard/dark brown sugar
- Some (large) bottles of Heinz malt vinegar (or apple cider vinegar if you prefer).
- Salt and ground black pepper
- First of all, there's an art to cooking, and it starts by doing the washing up you've been putting off all day and then putting all of the pots away.
- Sterilize your mason jars (I boil them for ten minutes in a huge saucepan).
- Peel the onions and chop them into slices (don't dice them, just chop them into reasonable-sized slivers).
- Fill the jars with the sliced onions to about 1/2 an inch from the top.
- Peel and slice the garlic and add the equivalent of a couple of cloves to each jar
- While wearing plastic gloves, wash the habaneros, chop them into quarters, remove the stalk and the white bits and seeds from the insides, and add either two or four quarters per jar (depending on how much of a "bite" you want).
- Mix as much pickling solution as you think you'll need using the following proportions . . . for each pint of vinegar add 1 dessertspoon of the powdered mustard, 4.5 ounces of brown sugar, one dessertspoon of salt (flat, not heaped), and 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper.
- Shake the pickling mixture well until everything that's going to dissolve has dissolved, and then pour it over the onions in the jars (leave 1/8 inch gap at the top).
- Screw the lids on the jars, shake each jar well, then put them on the back shelf of your refrigerator and leave for around two to four weeks (I tend to give the little rapscallions a good shake every now and again whenever I think about it).
- Wash up all of the knives, chopping boards, and anything else you've used and put them all away, and then wipe down all of your working surfaces. Trust me – you'll feel better when everything is clean and tidy – have I ever lied to you before? (Don't answer that!)
Ooohhh, you are in for a mega-treat let me tell you! You won't believe your taste-buds when they sing to you (in four-part harmony) as to just how tasty these little rascals can be. You can use them to enhance all sorts of cold meats (chicken, beef, ham, pork, lamb, ...) and most cheeses, or you can simply serve them in a bowl and spoon a few onto the side of your salad plate. In fact, some of my Indian friends even enjoy them as a chutney-like side dish for curries.
However you serve them, I think they'll be a huge success with your guests, the only problem being that you'll receive numerous requests to: "Please lay up a few extra jars as presents the next time you make them."
In closing, if you decide to give this recipe a whirl, I'd love to hear how the little rapscallions turn out.
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.