Experience The Joy Of Grandpa’s Easy Pickled Onions Unleashing Flavorful Memories

Grandpa's easy pickled onions, a time-honored recipe, yields tender, tangy onions in a sweet and sour spiced vinegar brine. I am unleashing flavorful memories.
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As a chef, Grandpa’s easy pickled onions are one of those condiments that adds value to dishes. I’m always looking for ways to add pops of bright, tangy flavor to dishes. One of my favorite secret weapons in the kitchen is a jar of my Grandpa’s pickled onions.

These little gems lend a tasty crunch and acidity to everything from sandwiches to cheese boards to salads and burgers. I’ve even added a pickled onion element to my snapper capriccio recipe. Once you realize how easy and versatile they are to make at home, I predict you’ll always end up with pickled onions on hand.

When it comes to produce for pickling, it’s important to select fresh, firm pickling onions. This will permeate the pickling liquid while retaining that satisfying crisp-tender bite. I use small onions with thin, papery outer skins for my Grandpa’s easy pickled onions.

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Large Spanish or Vidalia varieties can be too dense and take much longer to pickle correctly. Seek out young small or pearl onions if you can find them. Their small size allows the brine and spices to infuse the onion layers swiftly. If only larger varieties are available, peel and cut them into thick wedges or slices before pickling.

Grandpa's Easy Pickled Onions

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Grandpa’s Easy Pickled Onions Ingredients Deep Dive

The secret to Grandpa’s easy pickled onions is the brine. It provides a tangy base that flavors and preserves the onions. An acidic liquid is necessary for safe room-temperature storage of pickled produce.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

  • 2kg (4.41lb) Small onions
  • ¼ cup Sea salt (first measure).
  • 3 cups Vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar. White vinegar will also work).
  • 3 cups Water (You can use white wine – Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc).
  • 2 tbsp Whole cloves.
  • 2 tbsp whole peppercorns.
  • 2 tbsp Allspice berries.
  • 2 tbsp Fennel seeds.
  • ¼ cup Sea salt (second measure).
  • ¼ cup White sugar.
Grandpa's Easy Pickled Onions Ingredients
  • Onions — The star of this show is undoubtedly the onions. For best results, use pearl, baby or small pickling onions with thin, delicate skins and a high flesh-to-skin ratio. This allows the brine and spices to maximize infusion with the crisp, pearly white onion layers for even flavor distribution. If small onions are unavailable, regular yellow, white or red bulbs can be substituted. Peel and cut larger onions into thick vertical wedges or even slices before pickling to enable brine penetration.

Chefs Pro Tip — Look for onions in the peak spring or summer produce. They’ll be fresh, with little fibrousness or woody centers. This leads to tender-crisp pickled onions. Visit farmer’s markets to source petite, newly harvested bunches with slender stalks still attached.

Look for firm bulbs without moisture, mold, cuts or skin bruises. Well-stored onions from the fall and winter harvest also pickle beautifully. Purchase heavy, compact orbs without sprouting or soft spots. Avoid any onions with a strong, sulfur-like scent.

  • Vinegar — A vinegar brine provides essential acidity to preserve vegetables and impart tangy flavor. While distilled white vinegar would sufficiently pickle the onions, I prefer splashing out for a good quality apple cider vinegar. This imparts rich apple essence along with refreshing acidity. Apple cider vinegar simply better highlights and complements the natural sweetness of onions.
  • Spices — I spice my Grandpa’s easy pickled onions with warming aromatics. Allspice, cloves, fennel, and black peppercorns. Their subtly flavor notes complement the onions beautifully. Whole spices allow adjustable infusion.
Spices For Grandpa's Easy Pickled Onions
  • Sugar And Salt — Grandpa always used white granulated sugar. It sweetens the brine and tames the acidity. I use sea salt in the brine as the mineral content adds complexity and purity of flavor. Avoid iodized table options, which could instill bitterness over long pickling periods. White sugar and sea salt crystals also easily dissolve in the hot brine.
  • Water Or Wine — Grandpa would use water. However, there were times when he would use white wine. However, when he used wine he would add half the sugar required.

Chefs Pro Tip — I use a 1:1 apple cider vinegar and water ratio. White wine can be substituted for water, adding fruity complexity. Use naturally fermented filtered vinegar for fuller flavor and consistent acidity levels.

Easy Pickled Onion Recipe Method

Now that we’ve covered in detail the ingredient selection for Grandpa’s easy pickled onions, we’re ready to dive into the technique. While active prep time is minimal, patience is required as the onions pickle over several weeks. Proper processing and sealing prevent spoilage during this flavor development phase.

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Peeling And Salting The Onions

  1. Peeling — Peel the onions and place them into a stainless steel bowl. Add the first ¼ cup of sea salt and mix into the peeled onions. Cover the onions with cold water and place them in the fridge for 12 hours.
  • If the onions float, place a plate over the top to push them down below the water.

The next day, drain the onions and rinse them. Let them stand in a sieve while you make the brine.

Peeled Salted Onions
Salted Drained Onions

Brining The Onions

  1. Pickled Onion Brine — Add the spices, vinegar, water (or white wine), sugar, and a second addition of salt into a stainless steel or enameled pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes to dissolve the sugar and salt. This will also activate the spice infusion. Turn off the heat and let the brine sit.

Jar And Lid Sterilization

  1. Sterilizing The Jars – Place the clean jars on a kitchen towel and fill them with boiled water. Place the lids in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. This is an important food safety step. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes. Carefully tip the hot water out and let the jar’s air dry.
Simmering The Pickling Brine
Filling The Sterilized Jars

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The Filling Process

  1. Filling The Jars – Using disposable gloves, fill the jars with the onions. Tightly pack the onions together to stop them moving. Now, pour the vinegar brine into the jars to cover the onions. This can be done using a stainless steel pouring jug. Once filled, you can place them on the lids and let them sit until they cool for about 12 hours.

Chefs Pro Tip — I use recycled jars that have dome seal lids. The cooling process naturally creates a vacuum seal. The concave lids will become firmly depressed when cooled.

Lightly press on each lid with your finger. It should stay in place and not flex up and down. Ensure all your jars display this proper vacuum seal.

Store them in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks to allow flavors to meld. When you crack a jar of Grandpa’s easy pickled onions, you will hear the pop of the dome lid.

Let the pickled onions settle and infuse for at least two weeks. I know it can be hard not to crack open a jar to taste the fruits of your labor. Be patient. It will be well worth the wait. Then, you’ll be able to enjoy my Grandpa’s easy pickled onions.

Grandpa's Easy Pickled Onions
Grandpa’s Easy Pickled Onions

Homemade pickled onions can be kept for up to six months. I’ve kept pickled onions sealed in my pantry for eight months, and they had a fantastic flavor. Once opened, keep them in the refrigerator and consume them within three weeks.

Here are some factors for extending the shelf life of homemade pickled onions.

  • Storage — Store the pickled onions in a cool, dark place like your pantry.
  • Acidity — The acidity of the pickling solution plays an essential role in preserving the onions. Ensure your pickling liquid has enough vinegar, as vinegar acts as a natural preservative. I use a 1:1 vinegar and water ratio.
  • Cleanliness — Ensure all equipment and utensils used in the pickling process are clean and sanitized to prevent bacterial contamination.
  • Consumption — Once a jar is opened, store it in the refrigerator and consume it within three weeks of opening.

Yes, soaking the onions in salt before pickling would be best. Onions have a high water content. Soaking them in salt helps absorb excess moisture.

This is vital for maintaining the texture of the onions during the pickling process. Without this step, the onions might become overly soft or mushy. Also, salt is a flavor enhancer and will aid in the initial stages of pickling.

No, you don’t need to cook onions before pickling. Pickled onions are often soaked in a salt solution. They are then fermented in a vinegary pickling liquid. You want the pickled onions to have a slightly crunchy texture. Cooking onions before pickling will produce soft, almost mushy pickled onions with an unpleasant texture.

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Cooking Without Guesswork Know Your Conversions

Cooking is a science and a skill that requires a deep understanding of both the technical and creative aspects. Cooking is also a matter of precise measurements and ratios.

For example, baking is particularly sensitive to accurate measurements and temperatures. A slight deviation in the amount of an ingredient or cooking degrees can result in a completely different outcome.

So, to help you, here is a handy little unit converter tool for cooking without guesswork.

Grandpa's Easy Pickled Onions

Experience The Joy Of Grandpa’s Easy Pickled Onions Unleashing Flavorful Memories

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PREP TIME: | 12 hours 20 minutes
COOK TIME: | 15 minutes
PICKLING TIME: | 14 days 12 hours
TOTAL TIME: | 15 days 35 minutes
SERVINGS: | 30 serves
PIN PRINT RECIPE

DESCRIPTION

DISH SUMMARY

Grandpa's easy pickled onions, a time-honored recipe, yields tender, tangy onions in a sweet and sour spiced vinegar brine. I am unleashing flavorful memories.

Ingredients

  • 2 kg Small onions
  • ¼ cup Sea salt first measure
  • 3 cups Vinegar apple cider or white
  • 3 cups Water You can use white wine – Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 tbsp Cloves whole
  • 2 tbsp Allspice whole
  • 2 tbsp Peppercorns black
  • 2 tbsp Fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup Sea salt second measure
  • ¼ cup White sugar

Instructions

  • Peeling And Salting The Onions — Peel the onions and place them into a stainless steel bowl. Add the first ¼ cup of sea salt and mix into the peeled onions. Cover the onions with cold water and place them in the fridge for 12 hours.
    If the onions float, place a plate over the top to push them down below the water.
    The next day, drain the onions and rinse them. Let them stand in a sieve while you make the brine.
    Peeled Salted Onions
  • Pickled Onion Brine — Add the spices, vinegar, water (or white wine), sugar, and a second addition of salt into a stainless steel or enameled pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes to dissolve the sugar and salt. This will also activate the spice infusion. Turn off the heat and let the brine sit.
    Simmering The Pickling Brine
  • Sterilizing The Jars – Place the clean jars on a kitchen towel and fill them with boiled water. Place the lids in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. This is an important food safety step. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes. Carefully tip the hot water out and let the jar’s air dry.
    Sterilizing The Jars
  • Filling The Jars – Using disposable gloves, fill the jars with the onions. Tightly pack the onions together to stop them moving. Now, pour the vinegar brine into the jars to cover the onions. This can be done using a stainless steel pouring jug. Once filled, you can place them on the lids and let them sit until they cool for about 12 hours.
    Grandpa's Easy Pickled Onions

Chef Tips

PICKING LIQUID
I use a 1:1 apple cider vinegar and water ratio. White wine can be substituted for water, adding fruity complexity. Use naturally fermented filtered vinegar for fuller flavor and consistent acidity levels.
SEALING THE FILLED JARS
  • I use recycled jars that have dome seal lids. The cooling process naturally creates a vacuum seal. The concave lids will become firmly depressed when cooled.
  • Lightly press on each lid with your finger. It should stay in place and not flex up and down. Ensure all your jars display this proper vacuum seal.
  • Store them in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks to allow flavors to meld. When you crack a jar of Grandpa’s easy pickled onions, you will hear the pop of the dome lid.
STORING HOMEMADE PICKLED ONIONS
Homemade pickled onions can be kept for up to six months. I’ve kept pickled onions sealed in my pantry for eight months, and they had a fantastic flavor. Once opened, keep them in the refrigerator and consume them within three weeks.
Here are some factors for extending the shelf life of homemade pickled onions.
  • Storage — Store the pickled onions in a cool, dark place like your pantry.
  • Acidity — The acidity of the pickling solution plays an essential role in preserving the onions. Ensure your pickling liquid has enough vinegar, as vinegar acts as a natural preservative. I use a 1:1 vinegar and water ratio.
  • Cleanliness — Ensure all equipment and utensils used in the pickling process are clean and sanitized to prevent bacterial contamination.
  • Consumption — Once a jar is opened, store it in the refrigerator and consume it within three weeks of opening.

Nutrition

Serving>1serve | Calories>42kcal | Carbohydrates>9g | Protein>1g | Fat>0.2g | Saturated Fat>0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat>0.05g | Monounsaturated Fat>0.1g | Trans Fat>0.001g | Sodium>1968mg | Potassium>120mg | Fiber>2g | Sugar>3g | Vitamin A>8IU | Vitamin C>5mg | Calcium>30mg | Iron>0.4mg
COURSE:
Condiment
CUISINE:
New Zealand
KEYWORD:
Apple Cider Vinegar
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Pearl Onions
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Pickled Onions

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