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
- Blanch the pearl onions in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the skins pop off easily. Peel; set aside.
- 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.
- 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:
- Perfectly Piquant Pickles
- Maple Bread & Butter Cucumbers
- All-American Cucumber Relish
- Bread & Butter Tomatoes
- Classic Vinegar-Brined Cucumber Pickles