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Pickled Onions

10 half-pint (250 mL) jars or 5 pint (500 mL) jars
4 1/2 lb/2 kg small pickling or pearl onions
4 tbsp + 2 tsp/ 70 mL pickling salt, divided
2 tsp/10 mL black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp/7 mL whole allspice
1 tsp/5 mL mustard seed
4 1/2 cups/1.125 L malt or white vinegar
1 cup/250 mL sugar
5 to 10 small hot red peppers, optional
5 to 10 bay leaves

To remove onion skins, blanch onions in boiling water 1 minute;
drain; run cold water over onions to chill them quickly; drain
again. With a sharp knife, trim off root end; slip off skin and
any dried or leathery inner layers. Place onions in large glass,
stainless steel or enamel bowl and mix thoroughly with 4 tbsp (60
mL) pickling salt. Cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight, stirring
once or twice.

Fill boiling water canner with water. Place 10 clean half-pint (250
mL) or 5 clean pint (500 mL) mason jars in canner over high heat.
Drain salted onions and rinse thoroughly in cold running water;
drain and pat dry with a towel. Place Bernardin Snap Lids in
boiling water; boil 5 minutes to soften sealing compound. Tie
peppercorns, allspice and mustard seed in a large square of
cheesecloth, creating a spice bag. Place spice bag in a large
stainless steel or enamel saucepan with vinegar, sugar and remaining
2 teaspoons (10 mL) salt. Bring to a boil; boil 2 minutes. Add
onions and return mixture to a boil. Discard spice bag. If using
hot peppers, thoroughly wash them in hot water.

Pack 1 washed hot pepper and 1 bay leaf in a hot jar. Pack hot
onions snugly in jar to within 3/4 inch (2 cm) of top rim. Add
boiling pickling liquid to cover vegetables to within 1/2 inch (1
cm) of top rim (head space). Remove air bubbles by sliding rubber
spatula between glass and food; readjust head space to 1/2 inch (1
cm). Wipe jar rim removing any stickiness. Center Bernardin Snap
Lid on jar; apply screw band just until fingertip tight. Place jar
in canner. Repeat for remaining seasonings, onions and pickling
liquid. Cover canner; return water to a boil; process 10 minutes
for half-pint (250 mL) jars or pint (500 mL) jars at altitudes up
to 1,000 ft (305 m). Remove jars. Cool 24 hours. Check jar seals.
(Sealed lids curve downward.) Remove screw bands; store separately.
Wipe jars, label and store in a cool, dark place.

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