Here is a delicious and easy recipe for pickled onions taken from a book by B.S. Smith. I think this is one of the nicest versions of pickled onions I have ever eaten - well flavoured, very crisp, yet not so strong that they overwhelm the food they accompany.
1kg white or brown baby pickling onions
4 cups (32 fl oz) water
1 cup kitchen salt
3 (24 fl oz) cups milk
3 cups white vinegar
6 whole cloves
1 cup sugar
Figure 1: Peel the onions and place them in a bowl with the water and salt. Leave to stand for 24 hours, then drain and rinse. Place the onions on some kitchen paper for a short time to dry a little.
Figure 2: Bring the milk to the boil and turn off the heat. Add the onions to the boiling milk. Leave until the milk is completely cold and drain, then rinse and drain again.
Place the vinegar, cloves, sugar and allspice in a saucepan and bring to the boil and stir the sugar until it dissolves. Simmer the vinegar mixture gently over low heat for a minute or two.
Figure 3: Place the onions into wide-necked jars, packing down well and completely cover with the hot liquid. Seal when cool. Leave for at least three weeks before opening. Store in a cool, dark cupboard. The pickled onions keep well for 12 months.
Note: In this recipe, the milk is used to reduce the salt taste in the onions.