For a long time, I believed that pickles meant above all the pickles that I hate. But that was before I started cooking pickles of red onions, in 5 minutes flat. Crispy-melting like candy and full of probiotics, they spice up any dish and aid digestion.
Whether you like them or not, pickles are part of what is called pickles. Broadly speaking, these are foods whose lifespan is extended thanks to a solution of vinegar and salt which triggers a process of lacto-fermentation (nothing to do with milk, it refers to the acid lactic).
This process makes the food more acidic, to the point of killing most bacteria, making it an excellent way to preserve. As you can imagine, it also changes the taste, texture, even the visual aspect of the food, which partly explains why a cucumber can look so different from a cucumber.
Although I love cucumbers, I hate pickles, so I had never really looked into making homemade pickles. But that was before I came across the TikTok of a (charming) chef, Ethan Chlebowski, explaining why he adds those of red onions to absolutely any savory dish. And as it looked very simple, I love onions, and pimp my way of cooking, I immediately started! Since, I can’t do without it, I put it everywhere, and I even cook more at home just to add more. Soon I might even be walking around with a jar still on me, who knows.
Why pickles will pimp your dishes and your transit
In effect, by their bright pink colorred onions provide an always interesting visual contrast. By their half-crunchy, half-melting texture, it can also bring relief to a plate. And especially, by their slightly sweet-salty acidity, it almost looks like candy! Moreover, it causes the mouth to salivate more (to counterbalance the acidity), which enhances the flavors of what one slips there.
In addition, since it is lacto-fermentation, red onions also provide the body with probiotics. To put it quickly, it is about bacteria beneficial to the balance of the intestinal flora, which therefore contribute to better digestion.
The basic ingredients for cooking red onion pickles
To make pickles of red onions, but also any other vegetable you want to lacto-ferment (like carrots, red cabbage, or fennel, for example), you only need 4 ingredients, which you can vary or complete as you wish, as you become addicted like me. But first, get a glass jar that you can close hermetically thanks to its lid, because it will serve as a measuring cup and a preserve:
- A few red onions, just to make your efforts profitable (enough to fill your jar, in fact: I make at least 5 for a 500 ml jar).
- Half a jar of white vinegar (or cider, or rice)
- Half a jar of water
- 1 large pinch of coarse salt
And that’s all to form the basis of your vinegar solution. You can pimp it with other aromatic ingredients with antibacterial properties, like cloves, star anise, or even a tablespoon of sugar. What I love to add are mustard and cumin seeds, toasted for a few minutes dry in a pan to roast them, which accentuates their flavors.
The recipe for pickled red onions in 4 steps
- Pour half your water, half your vinegar, and your pinch of salt into a saucepan and bring this solution to a boil (you can also add your cloves, your star anise, your sugar or your mustard seeds and roasted cumin).
- While your mixture is heating, peel your red onions, cut them in half, then slice them thinly (from the root to the head, ideally: this has the advantage of breaking fewer cells, so less crying ). Pack these in your jar.
- Once your solution has come to a boil, pour it into your jar, over the still raw red onions (yes, yes). Your onions must be completely submerged, so that the lacto-fermentation process goes as well as possible, and thus be able to store them for a long time.
- Let your preserve temper before placing it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, and it’s already ready to eat!
But the more time passes, the richer your onions will be in flavor and probiotics. Because easily keeps for up to 3 weeksif they remain well immersed in the vinegar solution.
So you can sprinkle a big fork of homemade pickles on any dish salty (or not, I’m not judging) like stuffed aubergines, roast halloumi, mushroom risotto, or butternut squash with chestnuts. Personally, I love to put it on my red lentil dahls, my chili sin carne, and in my smoked tofu spring rolls.
And you, did you already make homemade pickles? If so, what are your tips and best combos?
Read also :
Easy, vegetarian and inexpensive, this stuffed eggplant recipe has no flaws
One photo credit: YouTube screenshot Ethan Chlebowski.