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Edible Gifts: Cocktail Onions

Homemade cocktail onions photo
For those friends that are into mixology or just obsessed with Mad Men, don't worry about which new cocktail tool they might need. Instead make them homemade cocktail onions! The mostly hands-off process is pretty easy but does take a little more than a day for the onions to short brine (this ensures a crisp texture).

Once you've tasted these crisp, salty, and sweet cocktail onions it will be hard to go back to the store bought ones. To create more color in the jars, I used a combination of white, yellow, and purple pearl onions. For the perfect edible gift, add a fun label and directions for a delicious Gibson, a classic gin or vodka martini served with cocktail onions rather than olives, to the jar. Ready to pickle your pearl onions?

Cocktail Onions


Cocktail Onions


  1. 3 pounds of pearl onions (each one measuring no larger than 1 inch, preferably much smaller)
    1 cup pickling salt
    7 cups distilled vinegar
    2 cups water
    1 1/2 tablespoons pickling salt (this is in addition to the 1 cup of salt)


  1. Scald the onions in boiling water about 2 minutes, then quickly dip into cold water; peel the onions.
  2. Layer the onions in a large bowl, alternately with the 1 cup of pickling salt. Refrigerate the onions for 24 hours, stirring several times once the juices from the onions begin to form. Note: this step is called "short brining," and helps ensure a crisp pickle because it actually draws out moisture from within the vegetable and firms up the flesh in the process.
  3. Drain the onions, then rinse well and drain again.
  4. Combine the vinegar, water, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt in a nonaluminum saucepan; simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, wash 3 pint canning jars and 1 half-pint jar. Prepare 2-piece canning lids as manufacturer directs. Pack the onions into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Pour the hot vinegar solution over the onions to within 1/2- inch of the top, making sure it covers the onions. Wipe each jar rim with a clean, damp cloth. Attach lids.
  6. At this point, onions may be stored in the refrigerator for months and months without suffering in quality.
  7. For long-term storage at room temperature (like in your pantry), process the closed jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Remove from the water and let cool overnight on the counter. Check the seal to make sure a vacuum formed by pressing down in the center of each lid. It should not bounce back.

Makes about 3 pints.

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