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Pickled red onions in a white ramekin

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Bright and full of flavor, quick-pickled red onions add zest to almost any dish. Made with a simple mixture of vinegar, sugar, salt and spices, this recipe will give you crunchy, briny, gloriously pinkish-purple onions in just 30 minutes (plus an overnight soak).. In a hurry? In that case, just let your quick pickles sit until they’re cool, then dig in. If you’re in a real pinch, you can use raw onions and vinegar to create an ultra-fast quick pickle substitute without the spicy kick. .

We call these pickles, but they’re not the same as the jarred slices lined up on supermarket shelves. How are they different? In quite a few ways, actually.

In a more traditional pickling process — think kimchi, shelf-stable Mexican escabeche or jarred dill pickles — anaerobic fermentation preserves food while also giving it a distinct vinegary flavor. In simple terms, lactobacillus bacteria turn vegetable sugars into lactic acids. These acids lend pickles their distinct flavors while also killing harmful bacteria and preserving the vegetables. 

Our “quickles” don’t go through fermentation, so they’re not shelf-stable or safe to eat after a long period of time. We’re simply using a brine mixture  to give onions extra “oomph.” Plan on refrigerating any leftover quick pickles, and eat them within a few days. We doubt they’ll stick around long though: After all, they’re great on pizza, salads, sandwiches, and everything in between. 

For super thin pickled onions, try using a mandoline.

30 minutes cook time
12 hours refrigeration

1 quart (946ml) of pickled onions

knife (or mandoline)
cutting board
medium saucepan
Mason jar (or similar airtight/heatproof container)

2 red onions, julienned
1 jalapeño, sliced in half
3 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic
1 ½ cups (355 ​​milliliters) white vinegar
1 cup (237 milliliters) water
½ cup (64 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Julienne the red onions, and place them in your Mason jar. Put jalapeño, bay leaves, garlic cloves, vinegar, water, sugar and salt into the saucepan, and bring the blend to a boil for 5 minutes. Pour the liquid over your julienned red onions and let the mixture sit overnight in the refrigerator. When refrigerated, pickled red onions should last approximately one month. 
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