Tutorial: Pickled Onions

How are you all? I hope you had a nice weekend? The market on Saturday went well and the bad weather on Sunday was a good excuse to stay in. Although I usually try and avoid including recipes on this blog, cooking is such a big part of my life, and very important to the home environment, that I can’t resist throwing a few in every now and again. The recipe I have for you today is actually a great ‘home management’ tutorial – Pickled Onions.

Pickled onions are great with cheese, meats and salad, an essential in any ones store cupboard. This tutorial for home made pickled onions uses up any shallots you may have from the garden or bought in bulk. They also make great Christmas presents (yes I just mentioned Christmas presents in September!). If you make up lots of picked onions now, leave them for a few months to mature and pickle away, come December time they will be delicious!

The recipe I used actually comes from the BBC Good Food website – HERE. It is a bit of an unusual recipe as it uses honey to sweeten the vinegar, which gives it an amazing taste.


  • 500g shallots
  • 50g salt
  • 500ml malt vinegar
  • 200g clear honey
  • Hot water
  • Heat proof dish (with sides)
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Colander
  • Kitchen roll
  • 3-4 jam jars (about 12oz jars)
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon

I had a glut of shallots from my Mum’s garden so actually had about twice the quantity as stated above. I ended up making about 5 x 12oz jars worth. It is always best to make sure you have more jars then you need, just in case.

1. Place your un-peeled shallots into a heat proof dish and pour over enough boiling water to completely submerge the shallots (This is why you need a heat proof dish with sides). Leave the water to cool.
2. Once the water is cool drain the shallots using the colander. Then begin to cut the tops and root and peel them. You will need a sharp knife and a chopping board for this. I don’t mind the smell of onions and wear contact lenses so they don’t make me cry – if you are really sensitive I would recommend only making up a small quantity of pickled onions at a time. You may also like to wear rubber gloves whilst doing this as the skins of onions contains a natural yellow dye.

3. Once all of the shallots are chopped and peeled place them back in the cleaned heat proof dish and cover with the salt. Make sure you give them a good stir and leave over night. You may want to cover them over with a tea towel. They will make the entire kitchen smell of onions so choose a couple of days when you won’t have any visitors.

4. The next day begin by rinsing the shallots thoroughly with cold water. I used a colander for this. Dry the shallots on sheets of kitchen roll.
5. You then need to sterilise your jam jars. I find the simplest way of doing this is to give them a good wash and whilst still wet putting them in a warm oven to dry for about 20 mins (mine were in the oven at about 150 degrees Celsius and I left them in there until I needed to bottle everything up). Remember to sterelise more than you think you need just in case.

6. Whilst the jam jars are in the oven combine the vinegar and honey in a saucepan and heat over a low heat. You do not want the vinegar to boil just for the honey to dissolve. I found stirring the mixture regularly helped.
7. Hopefully by this time your jam jars will be dry and you can take them out of the oven (carefully though as they will still be hot to touch!). I then filled the jars with shallots whilst still hot and slowly poured over the hot vinegar and honey mixture using a ladle (apparently one of the rules of preserving is that you should always but hot liquid into hot jars and cold liquid into cold jars – something to do with bacteria I think??). Put the lids on nice and tight.

And you are done! Leave the jars for at least 1 month before opening and store in the fridge once opened. My jars are going to part of our Christmas hampers that we are making for our family and friends. Our hampers are going to be glorified cheese boards – a selection of cheeses, pickled onions, chutneys, oat cakes, etc. I will keep you posted as I make more things to give you some inspiration for your own Christmas treats.

3 Responses to “Tutorial: Pickled Onions”
  1. Those look delicious! Fingers crossed I find one in my Xmas stocking… :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    How many jars did you make again…… I think you may have to do a few more…..looking good :)

  3. K and C says:

    I ended up making 5 x 12oz jars (I think that means about 5 x 340gram jars??). I need to make at least 4 more – I think my kitchen is going to smell like onions for quite a long time (not to mention my hands!)!x

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