Three Ferments are Ready for Their Closeups
Move over dill spears, kraut, and kimchi, there’s new ferment magic on the block.
For years I have been lacto-fermenting onions as a condiment. So many cuisines include the sour crunch of onions. A flexible kitchen includes sauces and condiments to quickly embolden common ingredients. Pickled onions are a sure way to spark any dish.
Mustard Onion Pickles: MOP
I will bet my pickledom that this will become as standard as ballpark mustard
This onion pickle is straight forward, slice onions then add dried mustard to a standard brine. Over many repeats I have included variations that build flavor. Note the upper right photo includes potato chips! – Recipe by B. Hettig 2022
INGREDIENTS: 1 QUART I use Vidalia or sweet onions to keep the yellow in the final pickle
- onion – 1 large or 2 medium, 4 cups, thinly sliced pole to pole [see above]
- mustard – dry, yellow, 1 TBS
- turmeric – dry, 1 tsp
- OPTIONS: I found a great secret addition: potato chips!
- smoked paprika – 1/2 tsp
- garlic powder – 1/2 tsp, [or I like 1/4 tsp hing, aka asafoeteda]
- wasabi powder -1 tsp, and reduce mustard powder by 1 tsp]
- potato chips – 1/2 cup ground to yield 2 TBS
- Brine – 2 cups filtered water, 1 TBS sea salt
- Optional: if you have some leftover dill pickle brine, add to the ferment jar before adding the brine
- Peel and slice onion through the root into 4 quarters; then cut into thin slices down each quarter [rather than across], then cut slices in half to yield bite sized “crescent”pieces
- Toss the onions with mustard and turmeric [and any other options]
- Make the brine
- Pack the onions into a clean lacto-fermenting one-quart jar
- Stir and pour in the brine then seal the fermenter according to instructions [I use the Perfect Pickler kit]
- Ferment for 4 days at around 70-75º, then refrigerate
- Some onions can be very spicy, and you may require a second 2-4 day stretch in the fridge; taste at the 4 day mark and if so, they will temper in the fridge
These onions “glow.” Served with rice bowls for a great color and taste punch
Japanese Onion Pickles
This recipe uses secondary fermentation to make a probiotic-rich condiment. There is a triangulation of flavors that is truly a delight. Secondary fermentation is a slow, not very obvious type of ferment. We use fermented products—soy sauce and rice vinegar—to create the action.
Let’s go ahead and make a pint. Thinly slice or shred a large onion. I use it for a condiment so I tend to make them very thin. Or consider shredding. For the fermenting brine use equal parts rice vinegar and soy sauce to submerge the onions.
I prefer to use live-culture soy sauce and/or vinegar. Source them on the internet or larger Asian markets.
Place the onions in a clean jar, pour in the soy sauce and vinegar and seal. Set in room at about 70-75º for 3-4 days. Store in the fridge
Here’s my favorite way to use Japanese Onion Pickles
Russ Shulman, friend and former cooking assistant, created this breakfast favorite: beat a few eggs and thin with a bit water or dairy. Add in some cooked quinoa, salt and pepper to taste. Then scramble in oil. Top with some of the pickled onions, a drizzle of brine, and some chopped herbs/chives.
Lime Onion Pickles LOP
Here’s an onion pickle with classic Mexican flavors —cumin and lime. Makes a quick crunchy topping for grilled entrees, street food, sandwich toppers, and garnishes. They’re also great in omelets, salsas, and salads in place of raw onions. – Recipe by B. Hettig 2009
INGREDIENTS: 1 Quart
- red onions – 1 large or 2 med., about 1 pound, thinly sliced
- lime – 1, zest and juice
- cumin seed – 1 tsp, toasted and ground for best flavor
- water, filtered – 2 cups
- sea salt – 1 TBS
BELOW LEFT: In ferment mode; UPPER RIGHT: Soaking harsh onions in baking soda; LOWER RIGHT: Classic combo on onions, lime, and cumin ready for ferment
- In a bowl mix together the slices onion, cumin, lime zest and juice
- Place the onion mixture in a clean fermenting kit [I use the Perfect Pickler kit]
- Combine the water and salt and dissolve
- Pour brine into the kit and seal according to instructions
- Ferment four days and refrigerate
VARIATION: Lime Onion Pickle Relish
Mince finished onions, then squeeze in some agave nectar or honey as desired. For some heat, add chili powder of choice