Pearl Onion Pickle Recipe

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I have a vague childhood memory of popping jarred cocktail onions into my mouth faster than my adult family members could put them into their drinks — olives and miniature gherkins too. I’m certain your inner child will want to devour this updated version with maple and spices just as quickly.


  • 1 pound pearl onions (about 4 cups)
  • Maple Brine recipe (below)
  • 2 teaspoons Relish Spice Mix (below)
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes


  1. Blanch the pearl onions in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the skins pop off easily. Peel; set aside.
  2. Combine the brine, spice mix, and chili flakes in a medium-sized stainless steel pot and bring to a simmer. Add the onions, and simmer for 1 minute.
  3. Spoon the onions into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Using a canning funnel, fill the jars with brine, and then remove any air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims, and apply the lids and rings. Process in a water bath canner or steam canner for 15 minutes. Cool and check jars for lid seal.

Yields 2 pints.

Maple Brine Recipe

Brines have an optimal balance of acids to keep preserved pickles safe while also preventing the sourness from overpowering the fresh produce and seasonings. Use a vinegar of at least 5 percent acidity. If you like a stronger tang, replace up to 1/2 cup of the water with more vinegar. If you prefer less of a bite to your pickle, you can safely add a sweetener; start with 1 to 2 tablespoons to take the edge off. To prepare this brine, simply bring the ingredients to a simmer before use. It makes enough brine for a one-quart jar or two-pint jars.

Replace up to 1/2 cup of the water with apple cider, beer, or hard cider, if preferred. If you’d like to add some rum, whiskey, or bourbon, substitute no more than 1/4 cup of the water with alcohol.

  • 1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Basic pickle spice, black peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, coriander, fresh or dried ginger, juniper, marjoram, mustard seeds, nutmeg, relish spice, sage, star anise, sweet and smoked paprika, tarragon, and/or thyme, to taste

Relish Spice Mix

Freshly made spice blends allow you to experience the way each individual spice mingles with the rest to create a particular flavor. Because pickling means you’re trapping produce in jars long-term to absorb brine, you should use the best spices and herbs available. This recipe yields about 1 cup. Simply combine all the spices in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid.

  • 1/2 cup mustard seeds (all yellow, or a combination of yellow and brown)
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

For more unique pickling recipes, see:

Tamika Adjemian is a recipe developer and Master Food Preserver. Find her on Instagram @TamikaAdjemian. This is an excerpt from her new book, Pickled to Please.

Pickled to Please

If you’ve been considering canning your own pickled products, Pickled to Please is perfect for you. Author Tamika Adjemian has put together a well-rounded collection of methods and recipes for your first foray into canning that will make it easier than ever. Intended for new and experienced home canners, this book covers food preservation methods, safety information, and teaches the “mix and match” approach that demonstrates the easy way to swap out seasonings and spices, vinegars and brines, and fruits and vegetables. Every cook will relish the tips in this cookbook, as Adjemian encourages experimentation with different flavors and combinations to find the perfect pickle. After you’ve mastered the art of pickling, the recipes included will help turn the ordinary into delicious at every meal!

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