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Irish/British Pickled Onions

From Athens Locally Grown

<p>In the British Isles, pickled onions are practically a national treasure. There are hundreds of commercial varieties, and they are served with everything from fish and chips to meat pies. Here in the American South, we might more commonly serve them as a side to go with greens and cornbread, or as a replacement for the olive in a martini (technically, with the onion it&#8217;s a Gibson!). Onions are simple to pickle, and this recipe lends itself to a lot of variation, so consider the spices listed as just suggestions, but they&#8217;re a good place to start if you haven&#8217;t made pickles before. Then try malt vinegar, wine vinegar, or cider vinegar. Add chilies and garlic, or change to a Southeast Asian flavor by spicing them with coriander, lime, and ginger.</p>
Source: There is really no one recipe -- the secret is in knowing the technique -- but this is generally similar to one in the Ball Blue Book from about 1963. (Entered by Janice Matthews)
Serves: variable-- 4 qts. of tiny pickling onions generally weighs about 3 lb. and will make about 7 pints

4 quarts pickling onions
1 cup salt (don't panic -- you'll rinse it off!)
2 cups sugar (or less)
4 T. mustard seeds
2 1/2 T. prepared horseradish
2 quarts white vinegar
about 7 small hot red peppers (1 per jar)
about 7 bay leaves (1 per jar)

Step by Step Instructions
  1. Wash and trim the onions as necessary. If they seem to need peeling, don't try to do it raw. Instead, drop them in boiling water, leave them to cool (or drain and dip in cold water), and the skins will just rub away.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the peeled onions, stir, and leave overnight (up to 18 hours is fine) in the refrigerator. (This draws out the juices so the pickles will be crunchier.)
  3. The next day, rinse the onions very(!) thoroughly to remove the salt. Dry them with a towel, and pack them into clean, sterilized jars. Put a hot pepper and a bay leaf in each jar.
  4. Place the spices, vinegar, and sugar into a large stainless steel pan and heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Then pour the boiling hot pickling liquid over the onions, leaving just 1/4 inch of head space in the jar.
  5. Seal the jars, and either leave them to cool and subsequently store them in the refrigerator (good way for a small batch), or process them for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath by established home canning procedures and then store them in the pantry.
  6. The pickled onions will be ready to eat after the flavors have mellowed together for about one month. They are even better after 2 months or more. Once opened, store in a refrigerator.