Hot Pink Onions

So… I ferment a lot. My countertops are crowded with jars and crocks and bottles in all shapes and sizes. Most of my ferments are really good. Occasionally I make something that’s kind of meh. And every once in a while I hit it out of the park! This is one of those times. These onions are sooooo good. I. must. eat. them. on. everything! Hamburgers and sausages are an obvious choice, but they’re also great on pizza, sandwiches, salads, and stirred in soups. I need to make a really big batch of these. Immediately. 🙂


Hot Pink Onions

Makes 1 Quart

2lb. red onions
1T salt
1t red pepper flakes
1t black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 slice red beet, about ¼” thick

These can be made either sliced or chopped; I prefer to chop them for a relish. Chop the onions and place them in a medium bowl, layering with the salt. Add the red pepper flakes and peppercorns. Use a spoon to toss everything together well and let sit for about 10 minutes. The onions will weep considerably and become juicy. Pack them into a jar, adding the bay leaf as you go. Be sure to pour any juices from the bowl into the jar.

Use your hand or any tool that fits to press the onions down firmly in the jar, leaving 2-3″ headspace. Put the slice of beet on top of the onions. Add a weight to the jar to keep everything submerged – this will be a very active, bubbly ferment. A small jar or shot glass will work. Secure the lid: if using a mason jar, leave the ring slightly loose; for a hermetic jar, clamp the lid shut.

Within 24 hours the onions should release enough juice to be completely submerged. If not, mix a brine of ½t salt in ½c water and add enough of that to cover them by about ½”. Allow to ferment out of the light for 4-6 weeks, until all signs of bubbling have ceased. Remove the slice of beet and bay leaf, and stir the onions a bit to evenly distribute the color. Store in fridge after fermentation is complete. Will be good to eat for many months.


I used a Kraut Source lid to make this batch. You can read my review of their product here. 🙂


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26 Responses

  1. Wendi says:

    Did you use pickled or fresh beet?

  2. Annie says:

    Fermented onions have kind of been the one thing that hasn’t appealed, but I will try this as a way to honour Killer Pickles. 🙂 My daughter is here with me saying that they look good, so hey!

  3. Eunice Price says:

    I just sliced two large red onions and started the fermentation process two days ago. I will add the other ingredients to the batch. Thanks for the recipe. Looking forward to the outcome.

  4. J says:

    Is there a liquid that gets added to this recipe?

  5. Eunice Price says:

    I didn’t notice that the recipe doesn’t list water. I used enough water to submerge the onions.

  6. Wendi says:

    One of my jars of onions is looking pretty dry, like not enough liquid got squeezed out of the onions, Can I add a little liquid to cover them or is this batch no good now? If yes, what should I use to top it up? Thanks!

  7. Wendi says:

    Oh sorry, I see that you already answered my question by your update above!! Thanks! 🙂

  8. michelle says:

    i started a jar of this yesterday morning and there aren’t any bubbles at all. did i do something wrong? when it said, “active ferment” i guess i was expecting to see bubbles within a few hours.

  9. Christina says:

    Hi Sarah, I have a batch of these onions in my pantry and they are really bubbly. The liquid is overflowing my jar and coming out from under the lid. Is this ok? I put a lid and ring on, tightened the ring then loosened half a turn. i am worried that air is going to get into the jar and mold.

    • Sarah Miller says:

      This is a really active ferment. When making a self-brining ferment, like this or sauerkraut, it’s important not to overfill the jar, because they will bubble and swell up a lot. You might open it now and push everything down, then secure the lid again slightly loose. That should make it behave better, and if it’s still bubbling then there will be plenty of gas to push the new oxygen out. 🙂

  10. Taylor says:

    I made a batch of these and stuck them in the cabinet about two weeks ago, I just looked and the top inch or so is not submerged and is a lot darker from the canned beets that were on top, I also have some white sediment at the bottom of my jar, is that ok?

    • Sarah Miller says:

      White sediment in the bottom of the jar is normal. If there wasn’t enough weight, and the top poked up out of the brine, you could end up with some oxidation of the top layer. That is harmless but you’ll probably want to scrape it off and discard.

  11. katie says:

    Hi there! I followed this yummy looking recipe and its been sitting without really any bubbles for almost a week now. No mold , its fully submerged in mason jar held down by beet slices and shot glass…plastic lid on. Is this ferment not working and should be tossed or give it more time? The only thing I can think of is maybe its not working due to the onions not being organic.

    • Sarah Miller says:

      The white plastic lids are not airtight, so they let the gasses escape and you won’t see as many bubbles. As long as it turns sour everything is going fine. Conventional produce ferments just as well as organic in most cases. 🙂

  12. Kathy P says:

    I think I messed mine up. Didn’t have fresh beets so I used 2 slices of canned. It’s almost 3 weeks and the top inch in ugly gray. Of course it stinks…fermenting always does, but I’m afraid of this batch. How can I check?

  13. Billy says:

    That color has to be one of the prettiest things I’ve seen on a plate of food. I think my family would lose it if I barbecued up some hot dogs and presented them with this beautiful relish on top! Thank you for sharing this recipe, I can’t wait to make this vibrant colored condiment!

  1. February 13, 2015

    […] to breathe fire and soul closely, that onion thing that some people, not everyone, can do: Fermented hot pink onions through which I say, Happy Valentines Day to you. Is this the randomest post yet? Please forgive […]

  2. September 28, 2015

    […] Hot Pink Onions […]

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