Monday, February 17

Smelly Fingers

We grow onions from sets and as we like to grow a few different varieties we usually end up with more sets than we really need. Once we have planted enough sets to provide an ample (if all goes well) onion harvest we use up the surplus sets by mass planting close together.

This provides us with a supply of small onions which are very useful in the kitchen. We also grow shallots. 

Last year we had lots of small onions and shallots, more than we knew we could use up before they started to grow. With this in mind to avoid waste, I decided to pickle some. I've been pickling a jar or so every so often but this week I noticed that some of the small onions are starting to grow so it seemed a good time to pickle the remaining small onions.
This is where the smelly fingers comes in as peeling a batch of onions leaves a distinctive odour on the fingers that, in the short term, washing seems unable to completely remove. 

Once peeled the onions were placed in a bowl of salted water which is supposed to reduce the amount of moisture in the onions and stop them from going soft when pickled. To be honest as we don't like salty food I've always been a bit wary of this stage but was assured by various bloggers that the end product didn't taste salty as long as the onions were well rinsed before pickling and this proved to be correct.
The saucer was placed on top to stop the onions bobbing up out of the water. I left the onions in the salt water for about 24 hours and then rinsed thoroughly before packing them in a jar. The onions tend to shrink a little at this stage so you need to prepare slightly more than you need to fill the jar.

Some recipes tell you to boil the vinegar before using but I left this step out as the fumes from boiling vinegar permeates the whole house. I'm not sure what this adds to the pickling but we've found the result to be just fine without subjecting ourselves to this.

I use pickling vinegar with a few more pickling spices added for good measure. I also add a little sugar and a little water to take the 'edge' off the sharpness of the vinegar.
Must make better labels - did you notice the mistake too?

Hopefully the pickled onions, beetroot and piccalilli with go nicely with our summer salads. Now shall I pickle some red cabbage or not?

33 comments:

  1. I shall try some mass planting from my left over onion sets as we recently bought a huge bag of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You always seem to have to buy more than you want, Jo but in the end the mass planted ones grew better than the ones we planted out, Just smaller onions.

      Delete
  2. I love pickled onions but I've never pickled anything myself. I might give it a go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very easy, Jo, the time consuming bit is peeling the onions.

      Delete
  3. I'm just gathering ideas for the garden and like the idea of mass planting and pickling. I have only ever pickled runner beans and so onions will be a great addition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you pickled beetroot Chel?

      Delete
  4. One year all I seemed to grow was small onions. This seems like a great use for them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When we actually build up a decent quantity of onions we shall pickle some as I love them! Why not have a go at red cabbage too- delicious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I may do, Jill but Martyn is keen to have more braised at the moment.

      Delete
  6. This year I am going to try growing shallots from seed.They used to be grown only from set (bulbs) but the Dutch have developed a line of seed varieties.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll be interested in how you get on with that, Alain

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Did you spot the mistake, Victoria?

      Delete
  8. I am definitely not going to show this post to TNG Sue, he will demand that I grow enough onions to make jars of pickles, whether correctly labelled or not ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear, I wouldn't want to be the cause of lots of extra work, Janet. I have been known to write 19** on cheques. Not 1914 though!

      Delete
  9. Making your own variations on the theme is good - this is where new recipes come from. Here's a tip to help with peeling all those little onions (you probably know it already..) Briefly immerse the onions in boiling water (just a few seconds). This will soften the skins and make them flexible so that they come off quite easily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did know about the tip, Mark but wondered whether it softened the onions which is OK for cooking but not pickling. I think most recipes end up with some tweaking on our kitchen.

      Delete
  10. I just love to see home pickling in lovely big jars! That's enough for a small army...and yes, toy MUST pickle the cabbage and post on it....just for me!!!xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So far the braised red cabbage is winning, Snowbird but there's another day and another cabbage!

      Delete
  11. Mmm, we love pickled onions here, they don't last long. I really like pickled cauliflower too. I've never boiled the vinegar, I don't see the point, it's quite sterile as it is because of the acid I should think. I bought some really round shallot sets the other day, so they should be nice for pickling I hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder whether it is more to infuse the flavour of the spices CJ. I bought pickling vinegar though which already is spiced I just add a few more.

      Delete
  12. I never made a pickle using onion. They look so good! How you serve it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It can be an accompaniment to cold meals, Malar like salads and Ploughman's lunches - cheese, bread and cooked meat. Larger onions can be sliced and added to a sandwich.

      Delete
  13. Many thanks for sharing Sue I always wanted to do pickled onions but like you do not like the smelly through the house I made beetroot marmalade for the first the other day but will give your method a go as hubby adores pickled onions and eggs as well

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pickled eggs is something I've never tried, Linda although buffets where I worked always included a large jar of them. Interestingly it never seemed to be opened.

      Delete
  14. I am always meaning to pickle but have never gotten around to it. This year I am on a mission to try and be more organised and get some pickling in too. My Hubby loves the silverskin pickled onions...and idea what I would need to grow in order to make these:??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can buy silverskin onion seeds, Tanya Suttons do one called Paris, Marshalls have one called Barletts and Thompson and Morgan have a spring onion called Pompeii that they say is good for pickling. We,ve never grown any though.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Sue..I have never grown onions from seeds but may look into it this year.

      Delete
  15. It's unusual pickle here. Sounds so interesting

    ReplyDelete
  16. I will try the mass planting for smaller onions, my other half does love a pickle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go for it Chayes - I've also pickled shallots in the same way.

      Delete

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment - it is great to hear from you and know that there are people out there actually reading what I write! Come back soon.
(By the way any comments just to promote a commercial site, or any comments not directly linked to the theme of my blog, will be deleted)
I am getting quite a lot of spam. It isnot published and is just deleted. I have stopped sifting through it and just delete any that ends up in my spam folder in one go so I am sorry if one of your messages is deleted accidentally.
Comments to posts over five days old are all moderated.