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Pickled Onions

  • malt vinegar
  • peppercorns
  • an inch or two of peeled and crushed root ginger
  • dried chilis
  • coriander seeds
  • mustard seeds
  • a few cloves (and/or any other whole spices that take your fancy)
  • small onions or shallots
  • salt

Put the vinegar and spices into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes - no longer, otherwise the vinegar will evaporate. Take the saucepan off the heat and leave it, covered, to cool down. (I leave it overnight.) Peel the onions and place them in a colander, sprinkling each layer generously with salt. Leave them overnight - stand the colander in the sink so that the water and salt can drain away. Strain the vinegar to remove the spices. Pack the drained onions into clean jars and pour in enough of the spiced vinegar to cover them. You can put one or two of the chilis in the jar with the onions if you like them VERY fiery! Seal and label the jars of onions. Put any remaining vinegar into a sealed bottle and keep it for making chutney or for the next batch of onions! Store the jars of onions in a cool dark place and DO NOT EAT UNTIL CHRISTMAS! (Or for at least four weeks.) I haven't given any quantities for the ingredients, because it depends on how fiery/spicy you like your pickles and how big your batch of onions is. As a guide, for two litres of vinegar I'd use about two inches of ginger, thirty or so peppercorns, two tablespoons of coriander seeds, six or seven cloves, five or six small nuclear-power chilis, two tablespoons of mustard seeds... you can also pickle onions without the spices, but you must still boil the vinegar otherwise the pickle will go off. You can use hot vinegar to pickle onions, but this makes the onions go soft. I prefer them pickled cold and crisp!

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