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Peel off dry skin and soak onions for 2 hours in the water and salt. Peel and discard the tough inner skin. soak the onions for 48 hours in a brine made of: 1 1/2 cups salt 4 quarts water Drain onions and dry well. Heat to the boiling point: 1/2 gallon white vinegar (for sour) cider vinegar (for sweet) 1/4 cup granulated sugar (for sour) 1 cup packed light brown sugar (for sweet) Add onions to vinegar mixture and cook for 5 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars. To each jar add: 1 red hot pepper pod (fresh or dried) 1 teaspoon each celery seed and white or yellow mustard seed 4 or 5 whole allspice berries Cover jars with two piece lids and BWB 15 minutes. NOTE 1: For sweeter onions (reminiscent of English sweet pickled onions), I also add (along with the brown sugar), 1 cup granulated sugar that has been lightly caramelized in a heavy skillet prior to mixing with vinegar and brown sugar. NOTE 2: You mentioned a mixture of vinegar and water, which would produce a less acidic tasting onion. You may safely use 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water for a milder taste. In either case, be sure that you BWB 15 minutes.
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