Pickled Pearl Onions For Some Serious Bloody Marys

It’s really hot outside and I sprained my ankle. That’s the summary of life right now.  Or maybe I have tendonitis or something.  Either way, I can’t do anything except hobble around like an old lady.  I’m going to make cocktails tonight since not being able to work makes me angry. Here’s the more exciting part that makes me happy, instead of angry:

Pickled Pearl Onions With Horseradish Root and Thai Chilis

Pickled pearl onions that are sweet and sour and spicy all at once, with a wonderful extra kick from whole, unprepared horseradish root are going to make for some serious beverages. Onions and other aliums are in season right now and when I saw bunches of pearl onions at the farmers market, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Is that bad? That pearl onions instantly take my brain to cocktails? Nah…We have a lot of pearl onions in the garden that should be ready in a few weeks, and while I had grand ideas about serving them with braised meats or roasting them in balsamic vinegar, I have a feeling that they’re not going to make it into any dinners.

This recipe is a loose adaptation from a recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which is an absolute must-have for anyone interested in canning.

Pickled Pearl Onions

makes: 4  1/2 pint jars

cook time: 12 hours soaking in brine plus 45 minutes active cooking time


  • 4 c. pearl onions, peeled, tops removed (don’t throw them away, make kimchi!)
  • 1/4 c. kosher salt
  • water
  • 2 1/2 c. white vinegar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tbs. mustard seeds
  • 4 pieces of very thinly sliced horseradish root*
  • 4 small dried thai chili peppers (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 bay leaves, split into pieces

1. In a large glass bowl, combine onions and salt and add water to cover.  Cover the bowl and set aside for 12 hours.

2. Sterilize jars and lids. Bring boiling water canner to a boil.

3. The next day, drain the onions in a colander. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.  In a medium sized, nonreactive pot bring the vinegar, sugar, horseradish and spices to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes to infuse the vinegar.

4. Pack the onions into hot jars and cover with the hot vinegar mixture, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Divide the spices and horseradish equally among each of the jars. Remove air bubbles with a wooden chopstick or skewer and adjust the headspace if necessary. Wipe rims and screw on lids. Process for 10 minutes.

*The natural food store in my town had whole horseradish root in their produce section, and I’m willing to be that stores like Whole Foods would have it too. If you can’t find it, substitute 3 tsp. prepared horseradish when you’re simmering all the spices in the vinegar.

P.S. So, if I could walk and hadn’t spent four hours this morning doing an hour’s worth of work, I would have a picture and a tested recipe for the internet universe.  It didn’t happen. It’s too good to leave this out though…

J’s Fantastic Dirty Bloody Marys

This is an approximation of an amazing cocktail that my boyfriend makes. I don’t even know everything that goes in there, but we can try, right? Caution: I’ve made this many times, but never written it down, so some of these amounts are definitely approximations.

serves: 1

makes: 1 cocktail

special equipment: a glass for your cocktail


  • a shot or two of vodka
  • cold tomato juice (or bloody mary mix) to fill the glass about 3/4 full
  • 1/2 tsp. minced fresh parsley
  • a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. prepared horseradish
  • 1 tbs. green olive juice
  • 3 green olives
  • juice from 1 lemon wedge
  • a dash of your favorite hot sauce (tabasco, tapatio, etc.)
  • garnish: 1 stick celery, 2 pickled onions

Mix all that together in your glass. Drink. Repeat as needed.