Traditional English Pickled Onions
2 ¼ pounds pearl onions
½ cup salt
3 cups malt vinegar
1 tablespoon mixed pickling spice
2 dried chile peppers
1 clove garlic
2 bay leaves
Place the peeled onions in a glass or ceramic bowl and cover with cold water. Drain the water into a saucepan and stir in the salt. Bring just to a boil so that the salt dissolves, then cool slightly and pour over the onions. Cover the bowl with a heavy plate so all of the onions stay submerged. Leave onions to stand for 24 hours.
Measure the vinegar into a saucepan. Tie the pickling spice into a cloth and add to the vinegar along with the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
Rinse the onions and pat them dry. Add to the saucepan with the vinegar. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Pack the onions into sterile jars and ladle the brine over them until they are covered. Add a dried chile pepper to each jar if you like. Seal with sterile lids and rings and store in a cool dark place for at least 6 weeks before opening.
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