Monday, October 3, 2011

Pickled Red Onions: Summer's Prize & Winter's Bounty

As I glanced at the pantry shelves in our basement over the weekend, I realized that we canned up a small storm this summer.  And I'm pretty pleased.  We've got a nice selection of items stowed up down there - and every single one of them is going to be a pleasure to crack open in the middle of our Wisconsin winter.

The corn relish we made reminds me of something I'd imagine they made back in the 1950's -- when every summer picnic included deviled eggs, cold-cuts, homemade lemonade, and a small vat of sweet & sour relish.

The pickles, on the other hand, hearken back to my childhood days. Back then, it was my mother who spent her spring and summer making jams and jellies and filling jars with tomatoes and peaches.  She also made these amazing dill pickles. They were spicy and garlicky, and they made your tongue tingle, your eyes water, and your breath smell... well, garlicky.   My pickles this year are pretty close, I think. And I'm pretty excited.

We also managed to put up a boatload of jalapenos.  Nearly 20 pounds this year. From that, we ended up with 14 half-pints of candied jalapenos, and almost double that of pickled slices and spears... which means we'll be all set for making nachos, pulled pork sandwiches, and jalapeno-studded corn bread for the next 8 months!

Interestingly enough, one of the real pleasure of the summer turned out to be pickled red onions.  We found this recipe over at one of my favorite cooking blogs, Voodoo & Sauce.  And, in fact, her description of these pretty much guaranteed we were going to try them out.  Just read this:
The hot brine takes the edge off the onions, and though the natural sweetness of the onions is enhanced, these pickles do not cloy. I boorishly ate half a jar of these with country pâté on a bagel, I admit it. My new favorite lunch is a cheese and sweet onion pickle sandwich on rye, but these are also wonderful on a hot dog or a steak taco. They pair well with salmon and rosé, and not just aesthetically. They are pretty in pink, and a perfect way to kick off any canning season.
Yeah. Really, how can you resist?

We followed Heather's recipe almost exactly on our first try. But, now that we've gotten our hands dirty, we'll be ripe for experimenting with the flavors next time.  And there definitely will be a next time -- probably before the end of the harvest season.
Sweet Onion Pickles c/o Voodoo & Sauce

And just in case you're wondering what to do with a jar of pickled onions, let me give you a short (but delicious) list:
  • Give your tail-gating hot dog a grown-up twist.
  • Add a few to your next grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Make your favorite breakfast sandwich even better - egg, prosciutto, and avocado with pickled onions on rye, maybe?
  •  Pair with smoked salmon for a delicious winter appetizer.
  • Serve alongside pork, or other roasted meats.
  • Eat out of hand - yes, I've done this, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
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  1. Oh this is one of my favorite things...luckily I'm not too late to can some!

  2. These are so good on tacos and burgers, too! Well, maybe not Taco Bell-ish tacos, but tacos al pastor, certainly. Yum!

  3. These look so good! I may need to make a vat of thee, myself!


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