Welsh Witterings: In a Pickle
The nights are most definitely drawing in and there is a cold chill in the air. It seems that Christmas decorations are now lining aisles in most shops and I have seen posts all over social media about people doing their Christmas shopping. I must say that my festive preparations do not begin with hitting the shops, but with a preserving pan and a good quantity of vinegar. You see for me cold, winter nights mean that it is time to get pickling and to prepare my pantry for the festive season.
I’ve usually got a few chutneys and pickles leftover from the year before, but this year this is not the case. The simple fact of the matter is that at the end of last October I became a new mum again and pickling went clean off my priority list, so this year I shall be pickling onions, eggs, piccalilli and some chutney.
I’m starting with my onions. I love a good pickled onion, but it needs to have a good crunch and be packed with flavour. Whilst I am sure there must be a few good pickled onions available that are made commercially; I am yet to find one that is as good as a home made one.
I picked up my sack of pickling onions last week and I have been poised for pickling ever since. When it comes to pickling onions, there seems to be lots of different methods and recipes around, but below is my tried and trusted method:
Seren’s Pickled Onion Recipe
Makes 1.8kg (4lb)
1.8kg (4lb) pickling onions
225g (8oz) rock salt
1.1 litre (2pint) malt vinegar
1. Pickling onions are only available in Autumn and when I see the nets of pickling onions appearing in the green grocers to me it is a sign that the pickling season has arrived.
2. Top, tail and peel the onions and put them into a non-metallic bowl/container (I use a fermenting bucket). Sprinkle the salt over, making sure all the onions are well coated.
Cover and leave in a cool place overnight.
3. Wash the salt off and dry with kitchen towel or clean lint free tea-towels. Take your time with the rinsing process to ensure you get all the excess salt washed away.
4 Pack the onions tightly into clean, sterilized jars. Add spices to the jars (I use coriander seeds, mustard seeds, pink peppercorns, a bay leaf, dried chillies). Add the vinegar and make sure that there are no air pockets. Seal the jars tightly. They’ll be ready in 6-8 weeks.
Once opened store in fridge.
Later this week I’ll be tackling pickling eggs. A friend popped round with some windfall apples and some nice duck eggs earlier in the week and I am just itching to see how my planned pickled duck egg recipe works. So next week there will be more tales of pickling from my kitchen in Wales, but in the meantime if you want some pickling inspiration then check out my book The Pleasure of Preserving