Can Jam: Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Onions

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Once again, I’ve waited until the last possible moment to post my Tigress Can Jam recipe. Motivated by deadlines? Yes, that would be me.

Despite my lack of action, I actually have been thinking about what to make for weeks. I initially wanted to do a red onion and rhubarb chutney. I even had a few stalks of ruby red forced rhubarb (purchased for my April Grid contribution). However, I left it waiting a few days too long and the rhubarb puddled in the bottom of the crisper. I took it as a sign that fate wanted me to do a solo red onion condiment.

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Last weekend, I bought several hefty red onions and have been gazing at them for the last seven days waiting to be moved. Wednesday (or thereabouts), I decided that I wanted to make something akin to a bread and butter pickle (I’m a sucker for the combination of sweet and puckery). Tonight I settled down on the floor in front of the stretch of bookshelves that hold the canning volumes, in order to cobble a recipe together.

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I stole inspiration from Linda Ziedrich’s favorite bread and butter pickle recipe (did you see that Linda left a comment on Rurally Screwed recently? I am star struck!), while using the proportions and cooking guidelines for pickled onions from So Easy to Preserve. What I got was a gently hued, softly cooked, slightly sweet pickle that I cannot wait to heap on a burger or suck down with a mild, soft cheese.

Updated June 29, 2010: These pickles are amazing on salads, particularly one built on a base of spicy arugula. Just thought you should know.

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Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Onions

Yield: 4 Pints

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of red onion, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pickling salt
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

Instructions

  1. Fill your canning pot with water, submerge your jars in it and bring to a boil. When it has reached a boil, turn the temperature down to a simmer and keep hot until you’re ready to fill your jars. Place the lids in a small saucepan and bring to a very low simmer (you’re shooting to heat the lids to approximately 185 degrees).
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the sliced red onion and cook for four minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Using the same pot in which you quickly cooked the onions, combine the brine ingredients. As soon as the salt and sugar are dissolved, add the red onions. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
  4. Remove the jars from the canning pot. Fill with the onions and brine, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a wooden chopstick or the end of a wooden spoon to remove as many bubbles from the jars as is possible.
  5. Wipe rims (even that small amount of sugar will make the brine slightly sticky), apply lids and screw on bands.
  6. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (remember that you don’t start counting time until the pot returns to a boil).
  7. When time in up, remove the jars from the pot and allow them to cook on a towel-lined countertop until they are completely cool (overnight is good). When they are cool enough to handle, remove rings, check seals and store in a cool, dark place. Let cure for at least 48 hours prior to opening jars.
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46 Responses to Can Jam: Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Onions

  1. 1

    Mmmmm. My mouth is watering already!

  2. 2

    Those look amazing! I just couldn’t get moved by pickled onions but I may copy that. I missed the deadline but I’ve been a little busy with putting up my 1/2 pig this week…pickled onions would be yummy next to some pulled pork.

  3. 3
    alison says:

    This looks really tasty! I am curious though, do you make a brine with apple cider, (as written) or with apple cider vinegar?

  4. 4
    Marisa says:

    Another Marisa, I know! I can’t wait for their resting period to end, so I can get to the business of eating them.

    Sustainable Eats, by all means! Copy away!

    Alison, thank you so much for catching that. I did mean apple cider vinegar. I wrote this post in my last conscious moments before bed and wasn’t as focused as I should have been.

  5. 5
    Chiot's Run says:

    This is something I would so LOVE LOVE LOVE! Must see if I can find some local red onions to make this.

  6. 6
    Sarah says:

    How close to bread and butter did these turn out? Because the idea of pickled onions heaped on a burger is making my mouth water, but I’m not down with the B&B. I like my pickles tart.

  7. 7
    Kay S. says:

    Sounds yummy. Do you think it would work with the large sweet Florida onions that are coming along so nicely at this time of year?

  8. 8
    Lauren says:

    All I’ve got this time of year is the tail end of last fall’s white storage onions. Do you think their strong flavor would overpower the brine too much? I gotta use ‘em up!

  9. 9
    Bonnie Story says:

    This sounds fantastic.

  10. 10
    Emily says:

    Gorgeous color. Interesting that you cooked the onions first.

  11. 11
    Jessie K says:

    Hey, thanks for the shout out!!!! I was pretty star struck myself. And a little bit sheepish. Jessie K

  12. 12
    A Davis says:

    My grandmother made a lot of bread and butters and taught me how. I am thinking of her technique and wondering, is there some reason why you wouldn’t just cook the onions in the brine rather than in water beforehand?
    Would they taste too strong?

  13. 13
    Natasha says:

    First time poster! I subscribed to Food in Jars a few months ago because I want to try ‘putting up’ foods, and have been waiting for the right recipe to ‘move me’. Well, this is it!! I love that the onions are boiled first.

    I am wondering if I can use the cooking water drained from the onions as the 1/2 cup liquid required for the brine. One would assume that the nutrients extruded in the cooking process may survive in the cooking water, and serve to enrich the recipe.

    In your experience, would the cooking water add an off-taste?

  14. 14
    anduin says:

    My, but you have a lot of red pepper flakes!

  15. 15

    [...] week’s DIY Kitchen comes to us from Food in Jars. I love onions and I love them even more pickled, so when I noticed this while browsing through the [...]

  16. 16
    Steven says:

    I have been searching for a good recipe to use for Myoga (Japanese Ginger) and I gave this a try. Fingers crossed it tastes good.

  17. 17
    Rebecca says:

    I have had these on my “to do” list and just made them (they are cooling under the towel right now)! Tasted the last bits that didn’t fit in the jar (I got 3x 500 mL and 1x 250 mL with about 1 tablespoon left in the pot) and they are great! I used regular cider vinegar because that’s what I had. I will get some apple cider vinegar and give that a go too! Thanks!

  18. 18
    marie says:

    Please remind people that 10 minutes in a canning bath is only a valid time for most pickles if they live at sea level. Times must be adjusted for altitude with all canning.

  19. 19
    Kathy says:

    I’ve been looking through your recipes for a while, trying to decide which recipes to try. I unexpectedly have a 4 day weekend with nothing to do but clean house, and who wants to do that! Went to the Farmer’s Market and picked up the 3 lbs. of onions needed for this recipe, which sounds a lot like the onions my Mom used to make. Now if our power will come back on I’m gonna try a batch. Thanks for this and all of your delicious sounding recipes.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    Mandy says:

    These came out great, thanks! Blogged here and on my twitter site:

    http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=392031.0

  22. 22
    Karen says:

    Made these with my sister-in-law earlier this week. They are wonderful! I plan to eat them on pizza, salads, burgers, and in paninis. :) Thank you for another great recipe.

  23. 23

    [...] Challenge) and topped it with a couple slices of turkey, some crumbly cheddar, several forkfuls of pickled red onion (same recipe, different batch) and cucumber [...]

  24. 24

    [...] week’s featured photo from our Flickr pool is by contributor Anna Keyes. She took inspiration from the pickled red onion recipe over at Food In Jars. Don’t these look like a great Winter project to [...]

  25. 25
    Maggie says:

    Marissa – Have you tried making a red wine and red onion marmalade? Have a recipe I could try?

  26. 26
    Tara says:

    I just wanted to stop by and let you know that I made a big jar of these the other day and they are wonderful!! I reserved 1/2 a cup of the water that the onion cooked in and added that to the pickling. My onions are PINK. And so so delicious! I’ve been eating them on everything from crackers with cream cheese, sliders with pulled pork, and occasionally, straight from the jar. :D Thank you!

  27. 27

    [...] so dolle schmeckt Auf der Seite Food in Jars, (die ich so sehr liebe!) fand ich dieses traumhafte Rezept. Ich habe die Zutaten allerdings etwas verändert. Fand es so schade, dass im Original Rezept die [...]

  28. 28

    My. Mouth. Is. Watering.:-)

  29. 29
    Gudrun Knight says:

    my husband gave it 2 thumbs way up

  30. 30
    Camille says:

    I JUST took these out of the hot water bath. Im so excited as this is my second time canning first time feeling like I can actually do it. How long before these have pickled nicely and are good to eat?

  31. 31

    [...] με τίποτα. Οπότε, όταν πήρε το μάτι μου τη συγκεκριμένη συνταγή άρχισαν να με φαγουρίζουν τα χέρια μου για να το [...]

  32. 32
    Maggie says:

    Could the sugar be left out, or is there a better recipe for non-sweetened pickled onions? I prefer my pickles tart all the way.

  33. 33
    Karen G says:

    My son just gave me 150 lbs of red onions, I was wondeing what I was going to do with so many. I had pickled red onions once at Olive Garden on my salad and have never forgotten the taste. I’m going to give this a try. I have a question for you……do you have a good recipe for marinated mushrooms that can be put up via a hot water bath? My son also gave me 30 lbs of mushrooms and I am dehydrating some, but would like to pickle or marinate some. I did make some last year, they were ok but I felt the vinegar was a bit overpowering, although, everyone who tried them said they liked them. Hope you or one of your readers can help me out.
    Thank you,
    Karen

  34. 34
    Karen G says:

    Just stopped by to let you know I did make a huge batch of these and they are absolutely delicious. I used red wine vinegar, simply because that’s what I had on hand, and forwent the parboiling of the onions. I now have 24 half pints and 24 pints added to my pantry, they will go beautifully in my gift baskets this year. I had about 2 cups of brine left after all were put up so I sliced a couple more onions and added them to it. They stayed fairly crisp because I didn’t cook them, just put them in the hot brine. They were amazing on leftover pork roast sandwiches. Thank you so much for sharing. (decided just to dehydrate all the mushrooms I mentioned in previous post, but if you have a good recipe, I’d love to try it.)

  35. 35

    [...] Sweet and Sour Pickled Onions [...]

  36. 36
    Camille says:

    Marissa I just wanted to let you know that I made this recipe twice. The first time I made it with the apple cider vinegar and for some reason I just dont like the taste of apple cider. My friends and familly liked it(Ended up giving away most of my batch to happy friends). The second time I made it I decided to use rice wine vinegar instead which is my prefered vinegar choice for vinegrettes and sauces. and WOW did it come out delicious. So sweet and not too bitter but still sour enough to be a pickle. My husband loved it also. Im on my last Jar. I did give some of this one away but was reluctant to give too many out it was so good lol. Im thinking of planting a pile of red onions this year and see if I can make some more. if onions dont do well I will buy a large pile of them just to make another large batch of these.

  37. 37
    Linda says:

    I would like to make this recipe too. If I wanted them to be a bit more spicy, what other spice could I add to the recipe? Don’t want them to burn going down so to speak, just kind of hot and spicy like.
    thanks

  38. 38
    Emily says:

    Hi there! I just made this recipe yesterday (from the book, which is a bit different than the online version), and I have a question or maybe a problem…? I really packed the onion slices into the jars, and each jar was only able to take a tablespoon or two of brine. I tried pressing on the onions and poking them with a chopstick to release air, but it didn’t seem to help. I was left with a whole pint of brine that wouldn’t fit!

    So I’m wondering first, whether this is normal… and also if it’s still safe since they might not have the same vinegar-to-onion ratio as you’d expect. I saved the brine, so I could re-can them in more jars.

    In case it matters, I made six 1/2 pints instead of 3 pints. The recipe in the book says it makes 3 pints, but it calls for more water than the online version, which makes 4 pints. Maybe the book should have said it makes 4 pints?

    The onions I tasted out of the pot were great. Also, I really love your book. I got it from the library, but I’m planning on buying it since I like it so much. There are so many recipes I want to try!

    • 38.1
      Belinda says:

      Hi Marisa,
      I love your Food in Jars book: so many great recipes. I made the version of these onions from the book. They were so delicious that I ate the whole batch in a month and when my CSA box delivered yet more red onions, I made another batch. I use them on bean salads, veggie dogs, cucumber salad, with cheese and crackers oh pretty much anything savory!
      Thank you so much for a terrific recipe!

  39. 39
    Kate says:

    hi Marisa,
    This recipe sounds great. Right now I only have access to the 4th burner pot that you recommended for canning so I was wondering if I put these in the half pint jars whether it would change the processing time or not? Thank you

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