To prolong the life of onions, take them out of any plastic packaging, put them in a breathable container, such as a basket or mesh bag, and store in a cool, dry space, such as an outhouse or a porch. If you don’t have a cool spot, the next best option is the fridge, where they should keep for a couple of weeks. Even if your onions sprout, all is not lost: peel them down to the sprouts inside, plant in the garden or in pots, and they will grow into fresh onions.
If you have a bounty of onions that need using up, try slicing and freezing them raw for later use, or make something extra-delicious with this quick pickle recipe. It works with both red and white onions, though the former make a brilliant vivid-pink garnish.
Quick pickled red onions
Whenever I have onions to use up, this is my go to “waste not” recipe. It not only preserves them, but upcycles them into a delicious garnish to use on top of stews, salads and stir-fries. Come to think of it, their bright pink colour and sour twang will make almost any savoury dish sing.
To sterilise a jar, wash it in very hot water, then put on its side in a cold oven (ideally, sterilise a batch, to make the most of the oven energy). Turn the oven to 150C, then, when it reaches temperature, turn it off. Leave the jars inside until needed. To sterilise the lids, put in a saucepan of water, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and leave in the water until needed.
Makes 1 x 500ml jar
2 large red onions (about 400g), peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar (optional)
¼ tsp coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
Put the onions in a 500ml sterilised jar. In a saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, salt and sugar, if you like your pickles sweet and sour. Add the coriander seeds, bay leaf and chilli flakes, if using, then bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the salt and sugar dissolves. Carefully pour the hot pickling liquor over the onions a little at a time, so as not to crack the jar, until covered, then loosely cover with the lid. Leave to cool, then tighten the lid to seal and store in the fridge. The pickles are ready to eat immediately; once opened, they’ll keep for two or three weeks.