2lb shallots/pickling onions
2pints of water
1 1/2 pints spiced vinegar (see previous post)
Preparing the onions:
Onions are beggers to peel at the best of times - t hey always make me cry; I have tried several methods of peeling the same even the one about holding the teaspoon between your teeth whilst peeling the onions all it does is make me look a bigger pratt than ever. I came across the method I now use by chance. About an hour before you start to prepare your onions put your onions whether pickling onions or shallots pop them into a bowl and then fill up the bowl with boiling hot water until until full. Leave to soak. Go back an hour later and start to peel the onions by using a sharp knife to make a clean cut to the base of the onion and even off the top of the onion and remove the outer leaves. Carry on until all onions have been processed putting the processed onions into another holding bowl or bucket. Place a few of the onions into the empty bowl and sprinkle salt over the onions (this is known as dry brining) working layer by layer i.e. layer of onions and layer of salt and leave the onions for 24 hours to remove any excess moisture.
I always use a cold vinegar to cover the onions as it keeps the pickles nice and crisp. I have found that if I use warm or hot vinegar it makes the pickles soggy and I prefer a crisp pickled onion.
If you want a sweetened pickle warm up the spiced vinegar and add a couple of ounces of sugar and dissolve in the vinegar over the heat. Leave to go totally cold once the sugar has dissolved fully.
After leaving the onions for 24 hours wash the onions well to remove as much salt as you can even if this means washing them in at least three or four cold water washes to remove all traces of the salt. Drain in a colander.
Sterilise the jars that you intend to use I usually do mine in the oven. I normally use wide mouthed jars as it makes it easier to get the onions in and layer them properly. Then start adding the onions layer by layer and use a spoon handle to manipulate the onions into place so that there are no gaps. Then add the cold spiced vinegar. I always add a whole dried chilli and a couple of bay leaves per jar and make a small wadge of greaseproof paper to put in the top of the jar to hold the pickles below the vinegar and I then put the lids on. Label and leave for at least a month more if possible to mature.
That is one stone of onions prepared I have a few more stone to do yet as well as shallots.
I would mention one thing. Sometimes you can get discolouration or spotting or a speckled effect on shallots or onions. Please do not worry the onions are still edible.