Fall harvest rewards us with pearl onion. They are available in stores just for a few brief weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, usually sold in a netted bag. They are the size of a large marble and have a very mild and sweet taste, and they are especially delicious pickled. Pickled pearl onions can be added to salads, eaten as antipasto, or added to a holiday charcuterie platter.   

Pearl onions are usually sold in a netted bag and are available only in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Onion Varieties  

Onion bulbs can be red, white or brown, but fall into two broad categories: summer onions and winter storage onions. Summer onions are sweeter and milder. They include varieties of Maui Sweet Onion, Vidalia, Walla Walla, and Pearl Onions.  

Healthy Winter Delicacy

Pickled onions are especially popular in the wintertime. Their vinegary taste balances well with hearty, meaty dishes we tend to eat in the wintertime. They contain sulfur compounds that act as a heavy metal detoxifier, and they have powerful antibacterial properties. Onions contain Vitamins B6, C, potassium, and manganese. Studies determined that shallots contain most of these compounds and Western White onions the least. 

A Note about Jars

You can use any jars you have on hand. I like these fancy French jars that come in many different sizes and shapes, making pickling look especially nice, and the jars even and even the lids can be reused indefinitely. Everything in these jars just looks beautiful.  

Pickled Pearl Onions

Magda Born
Pickled onions are especially popular in the wintertime. Their vinegary taste balances well with hearty, meaty dishes we tend to eat in the wintertime.


  • 1 1/2 lb Pearl onions
  • 2 c Malt or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 6 Bay leaves
  • 5 Allspice berries
  • 3 Whole cloves
  • 2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp Red and black peppercorns
  • Spices can be adjusted to your liking next time you make this, so take notes for future references.


  • Gather your ingredients
  • Bring vinegar, sugar, and salt to boil. Add 2 cups of water and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add spices and simmer for a few minutes.

How to sterilize your jars

  • Sterilize your jars using one of several methods. This is a quick one I used: Place jars in 2 inches of water in a large shallow pan and boil for several minutes.
  • When the jars cooled a little, neatly place onions into jars.
  • Ladle the hot brine into the jars leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles using a skewer or a chopstick and also manipulate and position the bay leaves and spices in a way they are visible and attractive from the outside. Use clean towels and utensils to maintain a sterilized process.
  • Place a rack, kitchen towel, or a flat stone on the bottom of the canning pot to keep the jars away from direct heat.
  • Enclose the jar and process them for 7 minutes in a boiling water bath (submerged 2 inches under the water).
  • Carefully remove from hot water bath using canning instruments. Let sit undisturbed for 24 hours to cool completely. Prior to storage, check to see if the seals are holding up. If not, reprocess or store in the fridge.
  • Jars processed in hot baths keep for about a year in a dark place. If not processed, they last refrigerated for a few weeks. Let marinate for a few days before consuming.
  • These onions look so beautiful in the jar that you may not want to open them just yet and use them as countertop decorations.


Information contained here is not intended to treat or cure any diseases or provide medical advice.


National Onion Association

Library resources:

Onions etcetera : the essential allium cookbook by Kate Winslow and Guy Ambrosino.

Formats: Book and Hoopla eBook


Onions : condiment, nutrient, medicine / collected and compiled by Clarence Meyer ; edited by David C. Meyer.

Format: Book

Call Number: 641.6525 MEYER

Magda Born


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