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Pickled onions are surprisingly simple yet incredibly rewarding to make.
Make the brine by dissolving the salt in 500ml warm water. Allow to cool while you peel the onions or shallots, trimming them slightly at each end.
Add the onions to the brine. Use a plate or bowl weighed down with a tin or other heavy object to keep them all submerged. Leave for 24 hours.
Gently heat the vinegar and remaining ingredients in a saucepan until simmering, but not boiling. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Sterilise your jar by placing it on a tray in the oven for 15 minutes at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Allow to cool.
Drain the onions, rinse briefly under cold water and pat dry with kitchen towel.
Pack the onions tightly into your jar, taking care not to bruise them, adding the bay leaves as you go. Carefully pour the cooled vinegar and remaining spices into the jar until all of the onions are completely covered. Secure the lid and leave for at least one month.