What Are Pickling Onions?

ceresone(missouri ozarks)May 9, 2006

Are they a particular onion? or will any small onion do?I keep seeing canning recipes calling for pickling onions, I have day-neutral, egyptian, sets, etc--but nothing called this-- i'm assuming any onion will work, but just thought i'd ask--

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gardenlad(6b KY)

Generally speaking, small onions are reserved for pickling, up to, say, an inch or so in diameter.

I've used Pearl Onions; Rakkyo; and small Potato Onions for this purpose.

In colonial days, the bulbils on walking onions were pickled.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 6:14PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Pickling onions are usualy thin layered and small. Similar to pearl onions, but a little larger, and a little smaller than boiling onions, although the boiling type can also be used. Potato onions are nice, as are small purplette type. I have pickled my purple layers walking onions too, as these are much more mellow and very close to a shallot flavor.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 2:54PM
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rachelellen

I made some "English Pub Onions" as one of my first canning ventures. They were quite tasty, but smushy, not crunchy.

I'm wondering if anyone has used pickling lime on onions? It makes my cucumber pickles wonderfully crisp, would it work with onions? I'm worried that as onions have more fiber, they might get woody, as happened with a batch of watermelon rind pickles.

I also would love to find a recipe for Japanese Rakkyo...the jars say "pickled scallion", but I've never seen scallions with that large a white end.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 10:20PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

I don't know exactly what you mean by a recipe for Rakkyo. Those in the jar are already pickled. If you mean those, what you do is remove 2 or 3 and put them on a plate. Have somebody else lock the jar away. If you skip this step, you'll go through the entire jar after tasting the couple you took out.

For pickling it, I merely use one of the standard recipes, right out of the Ball Blue Book. They stay nice and crunchy.

Most pickled onions you see in jars are erroneously thought to be pearl onions. They're actually Rakkyo. The Japanese pickle and export thousands of barrels of them every year, which are then broken down and repackaged.

For fresh use, I often use Rakkyo as a substitute for shallots and pearl onions. Gives the dish a different flavor, of course, but I grow lots of Rakkyo.

For instance, I made the following the other night, using Rakkyo instead of the specified pearls:

Sweet & Sour Onions

1 lb pearl onions, peeled
1/4 cup wine vinegar
3 tbls olive oil
3 tbls sugar
3 tbls tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 springs parsley
1/2 cup raisins
Salt and peper to taste.

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan with 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the onions are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Do not stir the mixture during cooking or the onions will break up.

Revove the bay leaf and parsley. Check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Transfer the mixure to a serving dish and serve at room temperature.

The second year I grew Rakkyo (first year of harvest) I came up with this use:

Chicken Chinense

4 half breasts
1/2 cup trimmed and peeled Rakkyo
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 tsp cayenne
Salt & pepper to taste
paprika

Cut each Rakkyo in half lengthwise.

Combine with mayo, garlic, cayenne & lime juice.

Slice breasts into fingers about 1/2" thick, cutting across the grain. Lightly saute stripes just until they turn opaque.

Combine chicken with the mayo mixture. Let sit in fridge at least two hours for flavors to meld. Transfer to baking dish and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 7:40AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Mature scallions do get larger at the bulb end. What you see in stores are the young plants. Today, pickling lime isn't used much anymore. For an onion, I wouldn't attempt it due to all the sulfur in the onions getting bombarded with calcium and lye (pickling lime). Mrs. Wages is the only company still making pickling lime. For the ease of use, the new Ball Pickle Crisp additive works good, and the vegetables don't need a long presoak, as its added when the jars are being filled.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 11:27AM
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rachelellen

"Those in the jar are already pickled. If you mean those, what you do is remove 2 or 3 and put them on a plate."

ROFL! :D

I am referring to those in the jar...I'd like to jar them myself! I've loved Rakkyo ever since a childhood Japanese friend introduced them to me, but where I live now, I have to travel quite a way to buy them, and they are expensive anyway.

If you have a recipe to make those sweet, crunchy little scallions, I'd love to try it.

I'll try the pickle crisp, but the lime makes the most wonderfully crunchy dill pickles. I just had a feeling for some reason that it wouldn't be good for onions.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 8:36AM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

>but where I live now, I have to travel quite a way to buy them, and they are expensive anyway.You might just try growing your own. They're quite easy. But they are a bit different that other alliums, in that normall you plant them in August, they bloom in October, go through a cold dormancy, then start growing and bulbing in the spring for a July harvest.

You can fall plant them, except you'll lose out on seeing the pretty flowers. They bulb just the same. In fact, I've planted them as late as January with no ill effects.

>If you have a recipe to make those sweet, crunchy little scallions, I'd love to try it. For a sweet pickle, try this one:

4 qts peeled pickling onions
1 cup canning salt
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup mustard seed
2 1/2 tbls prepared horseradish
2 quarts vinegar
7 bay leaves
7 small hot red peppers

Sprinkle onions with salt; add cold water to cover. Let stand 12-18 hours in a cool place. Drain, rinse, and drain thoroughly.

Combine sugar, mustard seed, horseradish and vinegar; simmer 15 minutes. Pack on ions into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Cut two small slits in hot peppers. Add 1 pepper and 1 bay leaf to each jar.

Bring pickling liquid to a boil. Pour hot liquid over onions, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust caps. Process pints and half-pints 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Yield: about 7 pints.

For a not so sweet version try:

1 quart peeled pickling onions
1/4 cup canning salt
3 cups vinegar
3 tbls sugar
1 tbls mustard seed
2 tsp prepared horseradish
4 small hot red peppers.

Follow the same instructions as above.

I've used both of those with Rakkyo, small potato onions, and pearl onions and they both work fine.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 12:07PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I was just at BJ's tonight and saw many plastic containers of about 2 pounds of onions. These are the small picklers and are an assortment of white, yellow and red onions all about the same size. Wish these were sold during the summer when I was pickling sweet mixed, as they would have added some nice color contrast..
My horseradish plants still have lots of green leaves. I plan to dig up a couple (after a two year rest) for the up coming holidays.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 8:36PM
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rachelellen

Thanks gardenlad, I might try one of them on a batch of bittie onions I have waiting, I would not have thought to put horseradish in, it sounds delicious.

But I'm really specifically looking for a recipe for the Japanese style Rakkyo Zuke you can buy in Japanese food stores and supermarkets with a large Asian section. I would suspect a simple rice vinegar, sugar combo, with salt I suppose, thought they aren't very salty, and don't taste much in the way of spices in them...but I don't think rice vinegar is strong enough for canning safely at home, I may be wrong. But these are so crunchy that it's almost like biting into a raw onion...in fact, I daresay they're crunchier than a fresh scallion would be.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 7:36PM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

You should check the rice vinegar. The last one I bought was 6% acidity which is more than the 5% required for pickling recipes.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 11:39AM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Good tip, Melly. My latest bottle (Nakano brand) says it's diluted with water to 4.25 acidity.

>But these are so crunchy that it's almost like biting into a raw onion...I've never seen the Rakkyo Zuke you speak of, Rachel. But mine come out exactly as you describe, using either of the above recipes.

You might try the second recipe, leaving out the last three ingredients. Even my rice vinegar would be safe with that one, because there's no water to dilute it.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 12:32PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

When I sliced up and pickled some regular onions, they did remain quite crunchy. The same holds true with whole garlic cloves. Something about the onion that just doesn't soft as quickly in a vinegar based brine.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 6:48PM
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