This is the way that I make pickled onions. I don't tend to measure things just prepare things in bulk and then if I need a little more vinegar then I will add some - this is one of the reasons I tend to batch the vinegar up before actually starting the preserving side of things. Too much - it always keeps and you can always if you have no further use for it use it on your fish and chips or chips. Adds a certain piquancy to home made chips. I always decant any vinegar left over from the pickled onions or shallots into bottles after straining it and use it for this very reason or alternatively use it in home made chutney. There is always a way to use it up.
I have found in common practice, sometimes you need more vinegar, sometimes less. It depends on how big your onions are, and how many you can get into a jar. It does however rely on your source. Sometimes the onions are miniscule, others inbetween which are the ideal size, but sometimes far larger. You have to go with what you can get.
The more compactly the jar is filled the less vinegar is needed. I also tend to make plain unsweetened version for OH and also a sweet version for myself. The added chilli gives a lot of zing so if you are not keen on a lot of fire in your pickled onions take out the chilli after a week or so. If you prefer it hot leave it in, a lot of people tend to leave it in about three to four weeks and then remove it. No point in having too hot a preserve that you cannot eat that kind of defeats the object a bit. So taste the vinegar to make sure you are happy with it.
Before I make pickled shallots or onions I always dry some chillies first. I prefer the long thin red chillies in preference although have used the larger milder ones as well. What do you need chillies for. Well with my pickled onions a dried whole chilli goes into each jar along with a couple of bay leaves and some black peppercorns, mustard seed and coriander seed. So first things first is to prepare your dried chillies or you can use a proprietory store bought pickling mix which should have all of these ingredients in.
These are the chillies I prefer:
But I have used these as well:
I normally just string the chillies and leave them somewhere out of the way to dry or you can dry in a dehydrator if you have one. Once they are dried put them to one side in a dry paper bag until you are ready to pickle your onions.
Secondly, I make my spiced vinegar. In the UK I normally use a plain malt vinegar (the brown vinegar that you use on your fish and chips). I buy mine in bulk from the Cash and Carry. However, Sarsons sell jars of the spiced vinegar, with the added bonus that you can use the jar to pickle your onions in and then store on the pantry shelf. I give you due warning though that sometimes you do not use all the vinegar for a particular preserve so do make sure that you have a clean sterilised bottle into which you can then decant the spare vinegar. Waste not, want not and all that jazz.
Now the preparation is done we can move on to making the actual pickled onions or shallots and how to use them which will follow in part 2.
Catch you soon.
P.S. This is not an advert for a well known vinegar company just something that I use on a regular basis. Please note that no pickling jars were hurt in researching and progressing with this project and I received no inducement. My interest lays only with the thought of the pickled onions and that first bite/crunch as one sinks their teeth into the pickled onions.