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Pickled Onions

malt vinegar
peppercorns
an inch or two of peeled and crushed root ginger
dried chilis
coriander seeds
mustard seeds
a few cloves (and/or any other whole spices that take your fancy)

small onions or shallots
salt

Put the vinegar and spices into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and
simmer for five minutes - no longer, otherwise the vinegar will
evaporate. Take the saucepan off the heat and leave it, covered,
to cool down. (I leave it overnight.)

Peel the onions and place them in a colander, sprinkling each layer
generously with salt. Leave them overnight - stand the colander
in the sink so that the water and salt can drain away.

Strain the vinegar to remove the spices.

Pack the drained onions into clean jars and pour in enough of the
spiced vinegar to cover them. You can put one or two of the chilis
in the jar with the onions if you like them VERY fiery! Seal and
label the jars of onions.

Put any remaining vinegar into a sealed bottle and keep it for
making chutney or for the next batch of onions!

Store the jars of onions in a cool dark place and DO NOT EAT UNTIL
CHRISTMAS! (Or for at least four weeks.)

I haven't given any quantities for the ingredients, because it
depends on how fiery/spicy you like your pickles and how big your
batch of onions is. As a guide, for two litres of vinegar I'd use
about two inches of ginger, thirty or so peppercorns, two tablespoons
of coriander seeds, six or seven cloves, five or six small
nuclear-power chilis, two tablespoons of mustard seeds... you can
also pickle onions without the spices, but you must still boil the
vinegar otherwise the pickle will go off.

You can use hot vinegar to pickle onions, but this makes the onions
go soft. I prefer them pickled cold and crisp!

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