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You Can Pickle That: Spring Onions

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 20, 2013 7:00PM

Even though pickling is incredibly hot right now, there are two important myths still left to dispel. First, cucumbers aren't the only thing you can pickle. You can pickle anything! Well, almost anything. Second, pickling is incredibly easy with a few simple tools. Follow along with us as we pickle the best seasonal produce all summer long.

This weekend at the Green City Market, we ran into the first of the year's big fat red spring onions. This wasn't the first week they were available, but be careful jumping on a crop too fast for pickling purposes. You'll end up paying a ridiculous premium for being first. We got these gorgeous spring onions from a variety of different farms, and all cost about $3/bunch.

Pickled onions are one of our favorite foods, but we'd never thought to pickle their stem-y cousins until we were inspired by a recipe in Paul Virant's The Preservation Kitchen. We tried two different brines - a traditional garlic/dill/pepper brine and a honey/thyme brine cooked up by Virant. Put these up in small pint jars - they'll still be tasty and a great gift idea come fall when spring onions are just a distant memory.

Spring onions are a great place to start your pickling. They come early in the year, before the rush has hit and everyone is buying out all the canning jars. They are vertical, easily trimmed and you can use the leftovers in a million different dishes. For the traditional version, search for any dill pickle recipe and follow the brine mixture there. Then process in the same manner as below.

Pickled Spring Onions with Honey and Thyme
Inspired by Paul Virant

Spring Onions - use a mix of red and white
1 1/2 cups white wine or champagne vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp honey
6 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp kosher salt

Start a very large pot of water boiling - fill it about 2/3 full.

Sterilize your jars and lids in your preferred manner - we use the dishwasher, others dip into boiling water. Using one of the jars as a measuring device, figure out how long your spring onions need to be to fit snugly with about 1/2 inch left at the top of the jar. Trim down enough onions to stuff all three jars.

Fill the jars with onions and two sprigs of thyme each. Then, heat up the honey, vinegar salt and water in a small saucepan. Once it's boiling, stir to dissolve the honey and pour the mixture into each jar, leaving about 1/2 an inch of space at the top.

Note: If your onions float up to the top, pack in more - when they are packed tightly enough, they will stay put. You may need to wait until the jar is partly filled with brine to pack in the last few onions.

Put the lids on the jars and screw on the bands. Lower them gently into the boiling water and process for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them sit in the water for another five minutes. Lift out and let cool overnight.

The only canning equipment you really need: a pair of jar lifters, a big funnel and maybe a basket to lower the jars in and out of the water. None of these tools costs more than $5. Start pickling!