Like some relationships, there is nothing you can actively do to really fuck up Pickled Onions. You set it up, and you just let it happen naturally. If it works, it works.
If it doesn't work, it still worked. You'll see.
I make these Pickled Onions and put them on just about everything. They are perfect on tacos, avocado toast, eggs, whatever. I also eat them straight out of the jar. Use the same brine to pickle anything else: carrots, radish...see notes below for more suggestions.
PERFECT PICKLED ONIONS
makes however much you cut and julienne, though this recipe as it's printed makes enough brine for a one-quart jar of Pickled Onions
1 red onion, cut length-wise, aka longitudinally, aka pole-to-pole, and sliced into ¼-inch wide strips
for the Vinegar Pickling Brine:
1 cup water, piping hot (from the tap if you trust your tap water, or filtered/bottled water that's microwaved or boiled and slightly cooled)
½ cup rice vinegar (use more vinegar if you prefer a stronger, tarter taste)
0-3 tablespoons sugar (depending on your tolerance for sweet)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and stir until sugar dissolves.
Pack sliced red onions into glass jars. Pour the warm brine over the red onions and allow to cool slightly with the lid off. Cover and refrigerate.
After 1 day, the Pickled Onions will be good. After two days, the Pickled Onions will be perfect. They'll keep for up to 2 weeks after that.
NOTES on INGREDIENTS
- Red Onions. I use organic red onions, but you can actually use any kind of onion, yellow, white, or even sweet. They will taste a little different, and they definitely won't have the same bright pink color.
- Slicing Onions. There are more than one way to skin a cat, but there is only ONE WAY to slice an onion for Perfect Pickled Onions, and that is length-wise, aka longitudinally. I could defend my entire thesis on cutting onions here, but I don't want to impress your pants off, so let me just say that you should trust me on this.
- Rice Vinegar. I use this organic rice vinegar. You can use any vinegar that suits your taste, even citrus juice. Just do not use straight-up white distilled vinegar. I have used this apple cider vinegar, this red wine vinegar, and this Champagne vinegar. They all render slightly different tastes, and they all taste great. Red wine vinegar creates the most dramatic color for pickled red onions.
- Sugar. Pickling brine recipes range in sugar amounts from none to almost half the brine. I have made pickled onions with a lot of sugar and don't get me wrong, the pickled onions taste SO GOOD, but it's almost too good from all that added sugar. And remember, onions already have some natural sweetness to them. I now make my Perfect Pickled Onions with ZERO SUGAR.
- Salt. I have a very large box of Kosher salt, which I use for cooking. If you only have table salt, start with half the amount in the recipe, since table salt tastes saltier than kosher salt. Taste the brine and add more from there.
- Other Vegetables. You can absolutely use this exact same brine to pickle other vegetables. I have pickled: julienned carrots, julienned daikon radish, whole baby carrots, baby squash, beets, chard stems, and of course, cucumbers.
TOOLS and EQUIPMENT
- Glass Jars. I bought a 12 pack of 1-pint wide-mouth glass mason jars. The wide-mouth is key because 1) they're easier to fill with onions or whatever else you're putting in your glass jars and 2) they are MUCH easier to wash. You can and should, as I did in the photo of the pickled carrots and daikon radish, use any re-cycled clean, sanitized jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- Lids for Mason Jars. Get rid of the two-piece metal lids that come with the jars. They are trash, will rust, and are super annoying to keep together. Buy the plastic lids, which are cheap and just so much easier to handle. You can find the lids in different colors if you're into color coordinating, or you can even buy cute wooden lids.