Playing with Pickling

I love pickled foods. Fermented, briny, tart — I think I like pickled vegetables more than fresh in many cases. Between garden produce and the Farmers’ Market, I had a lot that I wanted to pickle this week. Here are the end results:  


All except the small jar on the far right (containing in-process spicy kimchi made from globe turnips that I grew) are at least plausibly pre 1600. The greens are another attempt at plausible historical kimchi: turnip greens, salt, fish sauce, and lots of garlic. I’m pretty excited about that one. The rest of the jars are variations on pickled onions — whole small “spring” onions and sliced sweet onions two ways. Here are some recipes if you want to make your own. 

Whole Pickled Onions

  • 3 bunches small onions (roughly a dozen per bunch, walnut sized or smaller)
  • 2, 12 oz bottles malt vinegar 
  • 1/2 oz salt (this is about a quarter of the amount the recipe I was working from called for, so feel free to adjust this further yourself)
  • Spices (feel free to experiment!) — one nutmeg broken up, 2 bay leaves, 5 cloves, 1 – 2 tsp pepper corns
  1. Remove roots and tops of onions and peel. 
  2. Bring remaining ingredients just to a boil, then let cool. 
  3. Put all ingredients into a large glass jar or crock. 
  4. Keep in a cool, dark place (refrigerator) for at least 10 days. I shake them periodically to make sure all the onions are under the brine. 

These are supposedly the best accompaniment to pork pies. 

Pickled Onion Rings

  • 2 large sweet onions (where I live, Walla Wallas)
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 6 T sugar or 1/4 c honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Spices: 2 bay leaves, 6 cardamom pods, 3-4 cloves, 1 long pepper pod, 1 blade mace (I didn’t have any this time), some peppercorns, some juniper berries, whatever else looks good to you (I like a “Viking” variant with caraway and juniper)
  1. Peel the onions and slice into rings 1/4″ thick or smaller. 
  2. Bring brine ingredients to a boil. 
  3. Add onions to brine and simmer about 30 seconds. 
  4. Pack into a quart mason jar or a stoneware crock. 
  5. Store somewhere cool and dark (the refrigerator again) and eat whenever. 

I don’t know how long these keep because they have never lasted longer than a weekend. I like them with smoked chicken. 

For one of the jars of sliced onions, I used honey, fresh sage, lovage seeds, and juniper berries for the seasoning. I call those the “farmhouse” variant because they don’t use imported spices. 

Happy pickling!

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Author: eulalia

I'm a foodie, medievalist, crafter, and gardener living in beautiful Portland, Oregon.

3 thoughts on “Playing with Pickling”

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