A lot of the canning projects I’ve been doing of late have been overly time consuming. I’ve canned over 100 lbs of tomatoes (more posts on that later), hundreds of jars of jam, multiple types of fruit, and I have my eyes set on mustard. It has been a busy few months. But some nights, all I want to do is a simple little project. One that won’t take too long, but the results will be fantastic.
A few weeks ago, when T and I were driving home through Keremeos, we picked up all kinds of fruit, some of which you’ve heard about. One of the things I was the most excited about, however, was that at one little fruit stand we found several pounds of silverskin onions. You know, the white ones that are great to throw in stews, or beside a chicken while it’s roasting. Or, if you’re me, and you have pickling on the brain, these little onions make the perfect cocktail onion.
I read a number of recipes online, as it didn’t appear that any of my books had one. This one from Doris & Jilly seemed the simplest, and provided me with some good peeling and canning tips. While this one from the Kitchn seemed more complex in terms of flavours.
So, one morning a few days ago, I set to work, by placing all of my onions in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them so that they would easily slip out of their skins. I found the simplest method for me was still to top and tail the onion and then peel off the outer layer, but the boiling water definitely helped to loosen the onions.
I loved working with these little onions. It reminded me that one of my favourite things about canning is how beautiful fruit and vegetables are. A friend of mine was telling me the other day about Jamie Oliver’s new tv show where a number of kids were interviewed and didn’t know what a carrot looked like. A carrot! Anyhoo, back to business, after I had peeled all of my onions, I did a test jar to see approximately how many I would be able to fit into a jar and decided it would make about 3 half pint jars. Then I threw all the onions back in a bowl, covered them with about a cup of salt, and then four quarts of water to brine. I placed a plate on top of the onions to weight them down and then threw it all back in the fridge for about 24 hours.
The next day I was ready to get canning, so I assembled all of my ingredients (finally a use for sherry vinegar!) and got down to business. Following is the recipe that I used. I’m always a little nervous concocting my own blends, and I won’t know for about a month how successful this one was. But as far as I can tell, the rule with pickles is throw in a butload of vinegar and you should be fine. Also, please always remember that if it looks funny or feels funny it probably is funny. If your pickles are slimy, or something smells weird, just don’t eat it. Anyway – all disclaimers aside – here’s what I did, after the jump!
Roughly 1 lb of pearl onions
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
To each jar add:
1/2 tsp black mustardseed
1 bay leaf
1-2 dried chile peppers
1. Pour all ingredients for the brine into a large pot and bring to a boil.
2. Prepare 3 half pint jars in a hot water bath.
3. When the jars are ready, remove from the boiling water.
4. Add the aromatics to each jars. I used small italian dried chile peppers, but you can use whatever suits your fancy. Or just add some dried pepper flakes (about 1/2 tsp should be good).
5. Now pile in the onions leaving about a 1/2 inch headspace. This is not going to look perfect, but just try and get them nice and tight. Do not forget that these onions will need to have been brined in salt water before hand. The salt is important for shelf stability!
6. Now pour the boiling brine over the onions leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
7. Check for air bubbles using a chopstick, or some other small tool. This will loosen the onions, so you’ll need to jam them back in their again.
8. Wipe the rims, cover with a lid, and screw on the band. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes at a rolling boil.
You’ll need to wait one month before eating these babies. Mine have been sitting for a few days and already I can’t wait. Soon, I’ll be enjoying a gibson and cocktail onion while lounging on my chaise. Very excited.