When I was a kid I remember my mom, my nona and my aunt sitting on the steps at my nona's house in the late summer with a giant bucket of silverskin onions that had been soaking in a salt brine for days. They would spent hours sitting on those steps telling stories, laughing, peeling onions and somehow still managing to discipline us kids when we stepped out of line. At the time I couldn't understand why you would want to sit and peel onions for 4-5 hours at a time. It seemed so labour intensive and I truly wondered at the rewards. Pickled onions weren't my favourite to start and when I saw the amount of work that went into them I was well and truly turned off the idea altogether.
But now that I am ever so quickly approaching my 40's, I understand the joy in preserving and pickling. I enjoy walking into my crawl space under the stairs and seeing the walls lined with jars filled with different goodies.
I am envious of that 'community' that my mom had when it came to preserving. Whether it was going to pick the fruits or vegetables with her friends or my aunts, chopping or preparing the ingredients as a group or sitting on the steps and peeling onions while you laugh, share stories and perhaps a drink.
Yesterday after letting my shallots sit in their salt brine for 3 days it was finally time to rinse them, rinse them again and rinse them one final time and prepare them for the jars. The final result is almost too beautiful to put in the dark under my stairs. I want to place them on my kitchen shelves for everyone to see. I can't wait for 8 weeks from now when I will have a nice roast beef in the oven, perhaps a glass of red wine in the decanter and will 'pop' the lid off and bite into my pickled shallot. I didn't have friends over to help me prepare them, but I will certainly have a few over to help me enjoy them.
Perhaps I need to host a 'preserve' party and create a little of my own sense of community?