I made homemade pickles: it changed my cooking and my transit

For a long time I believed that pickles mainly meant the pickles I hate. But that was before I started cooking red onion pickles, flat in 5 minutes. Crispy melting like candy and packed with probiotics, they spice up any dish and aid digestion.

Like them or not, pickles are part of what are called pickles. Broadly speaking, these are foods whose shelf life is extended thanks to a solution of vinegar and salt that initiates a process of lactofermentation (nothing to do with milk, it refers to the sour lactic acid).

This process makes the food more acidic, to the point that it kills most of the bacteria, making it an excellent way to store† As you can imagine, it also changes the taste, texture and even visual aspect of the food, which partly explains why a cucumber can look so different from a cucumber.

While I love cucumbers, I hate pickles so I never really thought about making homemade pickles. But that was before I came across the TikTok of a (charming) chef, Ethan Chlebowski, who explained why he adds those red onions to every savory dish. And because it looked very simple, I love onions, and pimping my way of cooking, I immediately started! Ever since, I can’t live without it, I put it everywhere, and I even cook more at home to add more. Soon I might even be walking around with a pot, who knows.

Why pickles will pimp your dishes and your transit

In reality, because of their bright pink colorred onions provide an always interesting visual contrast. Because of their half-crunchy, half-melting texture, it can also bring relief to a plate. And, in particular, due to their slightly sweet-salty acidity, it almost looks like candy! Plus, it makes the mouth salivate more (to counteract acidity), which: improves the flavors of what one slips there.

In addition, since it is lacto-fermentation, red onions also supply the body with probiotics. To put it quickly, it’s about bacteria that are beneficial for the balance of the intestinal flora, which therefore contribute to better digestion

The basic ingredients for cooking pickles with red onion

To make pickles from red onions, but also from any other vegetable you want to lacto-ferment (like carrots, red cabbage or fennel for example), you only need 4 ingredients, which you can vary or supplement as you wish, if you become addicted like me. But first take a glass jar that you can seal with the lid, because it will serve as a measuring cup and can:

  • A few red onions, just to make your efforts profitable (enough to fill your jar, in fact I make at least 5 for a 500ml jar).
  • Half a jar of white vinegar (or cider, or rice)
  • Half a pot of water
  • 1 large pinch coarse salt

And that’s all to form the basis of your vinegar solution. You can pimp it with other aromatic ingredients with antibacterial propertiessuch as cloves, star anise, or even a tablespoon of sugar. What I like to add are mustard and cumin seeds, roasted for a few minutes and dry in a pan to toast them, which accentuates their flavors.

The recipe for pickled red onion in 4 steps

© YouTube screenshot Ethan Chlebowski.
  1. Pour half your water, half your vinegar and your pinch of salt into a saucepan and bring this solution to a boil (you can also add your cloves, your star anise, your sugar or your mustard seeds and roasted cumin).
  2. While your mixture is heating up, peel the red onions, cut them in half and then thinly slice them (ideally from root to head – this has the advantage of fewer cells breaking, so less crying). Pack these in your jar.
  3. Once your solution has come to a boil, pour it into your pot, over the still raw red onions (yes, yes). Your onions must be completely submerged to allow the lacto-fermentation process to run as smoothly as possible and thus to have a long shelf life.
  4. Let your jam set for at least 1 hour in the fridge and it is ready to eat!

But the more time passes, the richer your onions will be in flavor and probiotics† Because easy to keep up to 3 weeksif they remain well submerged in the vinegar solution.

This way you can sprinkle a large fork of homemade pickles on every dish salty (or not, I’m not judging) like stuffed aubergines, roasted halloumi, mushroom risotto or pumpkin with chestnuts. Personally, I love to put it on my red lentils, my chili sin carne and in my smoked tofu spring rolls.

Why I always have Pickled Onions in my fridge.

And you, have you made homemade pickles yet? If so, what are your tips and best combos?


Also read:

Easy, vegetarian and cheap, this stuffed aubergine recipe has no flaws

One photo credit: YouTube screenshot Ethan Chlebowski.

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