We Can Phickle That! is a weekly feature that will run from now through the end of produce season(s), I’ll be hitting up the farmers markets in search of the best seasonal vegetables to ferment. I’ll share my successes and favorite flavoring combinations with you on Thursdays until the produce becomes sad and sparse. If you don’t get the reference, please watch this hilarious video clip that approximately 3,000 of my closest friends and family members have sent me.
When I was a young lass and the world of fermentation was unknown to me, there were few things I loved more than a gorgeous salad topped with some quick-pickled onions, sliced so thin that a pile of them faded easily into the greens and other vegetables. The intense flavor, so quickly mellowed from the pungent, raw onion taste, was just the thing to make an okay salad into a truly satisfying meal. And when I say “quick” I mean it. The way I did (and still do) it was to slice some onions super thin, put them in an strainer and toss them with a lot of salt. After they were limp, I’d rinse them, give them a good squeeze, run them under the faucet super fast and then put them in a bowl with some vinegar for a few minutes before salad time was upon me. Fast forward a few years, and you’ll likely end up with the much crispier fermented version when chez moi. I still like the quick guys for their blendable texture, but I think the depth of flavor from my crispy fermented friends is well worth the wait!
Onions don’t tend to be very vigorous fermenters in my experience. This last batch was straight off the farm, so I didn’t peel them at all and I still gave it about 3 weeks, a long pickle for me. Onions take well to lots of different spices, but for these, I thought I’d mimic one of my favorite flavorful stew tricks and spike my onion with whole cloves for fermentation. Surprise! Many of them pop out during fermentation as the structure of the onions changes a bit, but still, it’s fun! And they stayed in for a lot of the process. I also like my onions salty (likely as a result of that over salting I’ve always done on my quick onions). They make great seasoning on just about anything. I think a fine chop of these will make a tablespoon of this a fine addition to any barbecue fare!
If you’re new to lactofermented pickling, I recommend getting your bearings on my Pickle FAQ page.
- 3 medium onions, super fresh or peeled
- 3 Tablespoons of whole cloves
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups of room temperature, filtered water
- Put salt in water and stir until salt is dissolved.
- Push cloves into onions, spreading evenly so that slicing is easy. If all the cloves don’t fit, you can place the extras in the bottom of the jar.
- Slice onions thin, yes, I know I did chunks in the photos. You can too, but I like them better thinly sliced I have discovered.
- Place slices into a quart jar, and pour salt brine over the top.
- Submerge and cover them using whichever method you prefer. Here’s a cheap way to submerge.
- Let them sit at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.
- When they are as acidic as you’d like them to be, put lids on the jars and refrigerate them. Enjoy!