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Cider vinegar mellows red onions

While researching a book about fermenting apple cider, Kirsten Shockey wanted to go further. So the Applegate resident wrote 15,000 words about apple juice’s final transformation from sweet juice to sour seasoning.

“It’s a natural part of the process,” says Shockey.

Yet every other cidermaking book on the market had only one vinegar recipe, a fact that bothered Shockey, who had started delving into its depth and breadth. But it took another book under Shockey’s belt to show just how versatile vinegar is and the countless types that can form seemingly by accident.

“Before, I was limited to apples,” says Shockey, whose “Homebrewed Vinegar” is slated for nationwide release Tuesday.

Read Sunday’s story for more about Shockey’s latest forays in the field of fermentation and whet your appetite for making vinegar from just about any food containing natural sugar. In the meantime, reach for Shockey’s old standby — apple cider vinegar — and use it to mellow and preserve red onions in this classic recipe, courtesy of Tribune News Service.

Quick Red Onion Pickle

Tribune News Service photo

1 medium red onion (about 8 ounces), peeled

1 cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 teaspoons spices, such as black or pink peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds or juniper berries (optional)

Have ready a spotlessly clean 1 1/2-cup glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Using a sharp knife or mandoline, cut the onion into slices 1/8 inch thick, working your way from stem end to root. Put onion slices in a colander in sink, separating slices into rings.

Pour 3 cups boiling water over onion rings. Pack them into jar.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices, if using, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour into jar, tamp down onion rings so they are fully immersed and close lid. Cool on counter completely before using, for 1 to 2 hours (but flavor will improve over next 2 days). Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Recipe from “Tasting Paris” by Clotilde Dussoulier.