It’s that time of year again when I begin pickling onions. I like my pickled onions with a bit of bite and a good crunch and quite frankly most jars of commercially produced pickled onions just don’t make the grade in terms of the crunch factor.

In 2018 I won a Great Taste Award for my Spicy Pickled Onions and so it seems all the tears I shed hand peeling the onions was worth the effort. I didn’t do much pickling last winter, or indeed any sort of preserving. This was partly due to me preparing to move home and partly to do with the fact that we had ample supplies of chutney, onions and marmalade, but this year I am already planning my recipes for the arrival of the Seville Oranges and I am busy making pickled onions, red cabbage and some good tangy chutneys.

When pickling onions it seems everyone has a slightly different method, but for me a key element is the pickling spice. Indeed, I believe that nothing beats homemade pickling spice. There are some very well established pickling spices available, but the beauty of making your own pickling spices is being able to control the spice combinations and strength.  Making home made pickling spice is simple and much more cost effective than purchasing the ready-mixed sachets of pickling spice you find in the shops.

oniomsMy recipe for pickling spice makes for a good strong spice with a bit of a kick, but you can adapt the recipe to suite your own palate.

Homemade Pickling Spice Recipe

Combine the following in a clean, dry jar.

  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns (whole peppercorns, not ground pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tablespoon of dried red chilli flakes
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried ginger
  • 6 dried, bay leaves, crumbled.
  • 1/4 tablespoon dried mace (not ground)
  • 2 dried cinnamon sticks, broken up


Combine all the ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. In a dry, heavy based frying pan toast the spices for a few minutes before returning to the jar and sealing tightly. Use as required in pickled onion recipes, pickled egg recipes and for pickling mushrooms.

This year I shall be having a go at pickling some medlars and also some blackberries. I imagine the sweetness of the blackberry with the tartness of the vinegar would make them an excellent addition to a cheeseboard. I’ll be testing out a few recipes this week so I’ll let you know how these turn out, but for now it’s back to peeling onions….only a few kilos left to peel!