Pickled pink


If you haven’t pickled anything before
these red onions are a great starting point. They are a doddle. You
could almost cook them with your eyes closed. They have an incredible
sweet, sour and lightly spiced flavour, look amazing, and make ideal
gifts at this time of year.

Pop them in jars with a few pickling
spices and give them to friends. Decorated with a piece of beautiful
Vivi Rouleau ribbon wrapped round each jar they make a wonderful
Christmas present.

They are also a good way to pick up
pickling basics, like how to balance the sweet and sour spices. Chop
and change as you please, just remember some are stronger than

As soon as you pop them on the table
you’ll see they seem to go with virtually every meal from grilled
steak and hamburgers to home-cooked ham, with cheese and crackers or
with strong-flavoured fish such as mackerel or sardines.

Smoked salmon, crème fraiche and
a few of these on toast would make a perfect Christmas breakfast.
Pink, crisp and slightly tart, they look a picture – and everyone
will be begging you for the recipe.

Quick pink pickled onions

Ingredients (Makes 3-4 jars)

  • 500g red onions (about 2 medium
    onions, although you can easily scale this recipe up)

For the pickling liquid:

  • 3/4l distilled white vinegar

  • 300g caster sugar

  • a cinnamon stick

  • a few whole cloves

  • 1 tbs allspice berries

  • a star anise

  • a few bay leaves

  • 1 tbs black peppercorns, whole

Hot tip: Buy extra spices to put
in the jars, they’ll look really pretty bobbing around. Don’t put
them in your pickle at the start of the recipe, though, or they will
be overpowering.


Mix all the pickle ingredients together
in a stainless steel or similar non-reactive saucepan and bring to
boil. Pop a lid on and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off heat and
allow mixture to stand for a few hours to infuse spices. You could
leave overnight.

Peel onions and slice into rings about
half a centimetre thick. Separate rings with your fingers so they
become individual. Bring liquid to the boil again, add about half the
onions (or as many will fit under liquid). As soon as pickling liquid
starts to bubble again, take it off heat and, using a slotted spoon,
remove onions and spread them onto a flat dish or tray. Allow to cool

You have to do this twice more, each
time allowing them to cool. This may seem a bit long-winded but it
means the onions stay crunchy and retain their wonderful colour. To
speed up the cooling process you could either pop the onions into the
fridge or do as I did and leave them, covered, in the garden.

Once you’ve completed the cooking and
cooling process the third time, pop the onions into sterilised jars,
adding a few extra spices if you like and seal. They are ready to eat
straight away but will benefit from being left overnight.

An alternative:

Try this recipe with chillies instead
of onions for a spicy pickle. The result is absolutely brilliant with
barbecues and grilled meats.

One comment

  1. Wil, if you are making batches of these to send to people for Xmas, I want one please. Thank you in advance.

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