Grandad s secret pickled onions recipe MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Grandad’s Secret Pickled Onions Recipe

My grandad is an incredible 92-year-old man. Despite his age, he manages to grow most of his vegetables in the backyard, while his front garden is always a colorful sight with all the lovely flowers. I cherish the beautiful memories of when I was little and would visit him on weekends. He would take me outside and proudly show me his bountiful vegetable plants.

Back then, I was a picky eater and only had a liking for sweetcorn. I can vividly recall him plucking a fresh, juicy corn cob straight from the plant and offering it to me to enjoy, completely raw. Oh, how that sweetcorn delighted my taste buds! It was simply the sweetest corn I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.

In his garden shed, he used to hang pheasants and partridges from the ceiling. It was quite the sight, but you had to be careful not to bump into them when going to use the outdoor toilet. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, I must admit.

Hey, did you know that my grandad has a pretty big family? He has a total of nine children, and my dad happens to be one of them. But wait, it doesn’t stop there! We also have 14 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, and even one great-great grandchild. It’s quite a crowded family gathering, especially on Boxing Day, when everyone comes over to my grandparents’ place.

Back in the day, when I was a kid, the whole family would gather together on Boxing Day. It was always such a blast! All of us kids would eagerly unwrap our presents and spend the day playing together. Meanwhile, the adults would enjoy a nice feast, indulging in good food and drinks. And sometimes, they’d even get a little tipsy!

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One of the things that made Boxing Day at Nan and Grandad’s so special was the buffet. Oh boy, let me tell you about it! The table in the back room would be overflowing with leftovers from our Christmas Day feast, like cold roast meats. And of course, no buffet would be complete without the classics – sausage rolls, chicken drumsticks, and a fantastic cheese board. But the star of the show, right next to the cheeseboard, was always Grandad’s homemade pickled onions. They were absolutely amazing!

When I was a kid, I used to be absolutely scared of those pickled onions. I would look inside the jar and see those whole red chillies floating around, and it would give me the creeps. To make matters worse, the adults would dare each other to eat them and laugh when someone ended up choking and turning red. It was enough to keep me away from those onions until I got much older, probably around 16 years old.

But then one day, I finally mustered up the courage to try one, and let me tell you, there was no turning back. Sure, they are spicy (depending on how long they’ve been left to mature), but they are also incredibly addictive. Just a warning: you might want to enjoy them in the company of your loved ones, because eating them before a hot date or a job interview might not be the best idea.

When my family and I first moved to Spain ten years ago and opened our restaurant, we received a visit from my grandad and uncle David. They asked if there was anything they could bring from England, assuming it would be something like Marmite or tea bags. As a joke, I asked my grandad to bring some of his famous pickled onions. To my surprise, he actually did.

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Can you imagine the reaction of the airport security? This was before the 100 ml liquids rule, of course.

Now, I’m going to share with you the secret recipe for my grandad’s pickled onions. I’m trusting you with this because you deserve it. But remember, let’s keep it our little secret…

Grandad’s secret pickled onions recipe

  • 500g small onions/shallots, peeled
  • 1 pint (550 ml) malt vinegar
  • 2 large tablespoons black treacle (I used miel de cana) or brown sugar
  • 2 red chillies
  • 2 red chillies

I’m going to tell you how to make pickled onions with a little kick. You’ll need two red chillies to add some spice. Let’s get started! First, put the peeled onions in a bowl of cold salted water and let them soak for about an hour. After that, drain the onions and let them dry.

Now, take a saucepan and pour in half a pint (275 ml) of vinegar. Add some treacle or brown sugar to the vinegar. Stir it all together and bring it to a boil. Keep stirring until the treacle or brown sugar dissolves. Once it’s dissolved, set the saucepan aside and let the mixture cool down.

Next, grab your jar and put the onions inside. Pour the cooled vinegar and treacle mixture over the onions. Make sure the vinegar covers the onions completely. Now, it’s time to add some heat! Cut the red chillies in half lengthways. If you don’t want the onions to be too spicy, you can leave the chillies whole. Push the chillies down into the jar, making sure they are well distributed. Finally, seal the jar with a lid and store it in a cool, dry place for about a month. After that, you can open the jar and enjoy your homemade pickled onions!

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