I can’t stand raw onion. So much so, that I’ve been known to meticulously pick out every last piece of raw onion in a salad before I will eat it. I do not, however, seem to have the same problem with pickled onions. This means that these quick pickled onions, which have all the taste of traditional pickled onions yet require far less labour, are perfect to keep in the fridge for adding a little oomph to a meal.
I no longer have either the patience or the space to put up large jars of pickled onions, which require months of steeping before they are ready to eat. These quick pickled onions are made inside ten minutes and can be eaten immediately, although they are at their best given a few days rest in the fridge.
Raw onions begin to mellow once immersed in vinegar. The rawness disappears, and the onions turn into a deeply savoury, crunchy pickle. A quick word about vinegar though. I use a good, unpasturised apple cider vinegar, such as Braggs, for these pickles. Wine or sherry vinegar would make an acceptable substitute for the apple cider vinegar, however don’t use a harsh malt vinegar as this will completely overpower the onion.
Once the pickles are finished, use any leftover vinegar for salad dressings, or to make another batch of pickles. I have added only the smallest amount of sugar to the initial cure, which results in quite a vinegary pickle. I find that this sharp vinegar edge is usually balanced out though once added to a dish, and is what makes these pickles so versatile. Should you prefer a sweeter pickle, just add a little more sugar to taste.
Quick pickled onions will keep for ages in the fridge due to the acidity of the vinegar, however these pickles are so easy to add to everything by virtue of being pre-sliced that I doubt they will last long. I like them strewn over or folded through salads, tucked into burgers or sandwiches, scattered over tacos, or just served with bread and a good cheese. Enjoy!
Kitchen Basics: Quick Pickled Onions
Store these pickles in a small glass jar in the fridge, and use within three months.
- 1 red onion peeled, approximately 200g
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon castor sugar
- 80 ml apple cider vinegar 1/3 cup
- 6 black peppercorns optional
- 3 allspice berries optional
- 1 bay leaf optional
- Very finely slice the red onion* and place in a small bowl.
- Scatter the salt & sugar over the onion.
- Gently massage the salt & sugar into the onion for 2 - 3 minutes. The onion will start to soften, becoming limp and floppy, and will release some liquid.
- When the onion is soft, squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Discard the liquid.
- Stir the spices (if using) into the onion.
- Add the vinegar and mix through, ensuring all the onion is bathed in vinegar. I separate any little piles of onion clinging together to allow the vinegar to penetrate.
- Pack the onion (& spices) into a small glass jar.
- Pour over any remaining vinegar.
- Allow the pickles to stand for 15 minutes if using immediately, although they will be at their best if allowed to steep for at least two days before using.
*I have used both a sharp knife and a mandolin to cut the onion. I find I can get thinner slices with the knife, and this is my preferred method.
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