Sterling shares British snack with peninsula

Bill Howell’s 9 Spice Pickled Onion recipe features sweet Palmer-grown onions, apple cider vinegar and nine top-secret spices — but that’s about all he will say.

“You can determine what several of the spices are by looking at the jar, but the exact combination is a trade secret,” Howell said.

Owner of local craft-pickling outfit Krafted on the Kenai, Howell first developed a taste for pickled onions while he was stationed with the Navy in Great Britain — where pickled onions are a mainstay.

“When I lived there I got hooked on them,” Howell said. “But when I came back, I found that nobody makes them.”

Howell, a retired naval officer who is also a retired Kenai Peninsula College student services director, tinkered with the recipe for years until it tasted exactly how it did in those British pubs. After enjoying his own experiment for about 10 years, his wife encouraged him to share the creation.

Howell said he enjoys the onions in a salad, on a sandwich or even just straight from the jar. He also recommends trying it with sharp cheddar and a hoppier beer.

Howell has been selling his onions at the Soldotna Saturday Farmers Market in 2016, and recently added several pickled products to his inventor — pickled garlic and hot pickled garlic. The hot garlic is pickled with spices, dried chilies and fresh jalapeno slices.

“People always ask, you know, ‘what else you got,’” Howell said.

Pickling and fermenting have been getting much bigger in the last couple years, Howell said. He thinks a combination of getting the word out and the trendiness of pickled products is what he has to credit for the growth of his business.

“[Fermenting and pickled products] have made a significant comeback,” Howell said.

It’s important to note that Howell’s pickled onions and garlic are not fermented. Instead, they are acidified, which just means that Howell uses the apple cider vinegar and spices to lower the pH of his product. He said he’s been experimenting with fermented products but hasn’t quite found the flavor profile or product he’s been looking for.

Folks interested in trying Howell’s creations can find his products from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Soldotna Saturday Farmers Market, online at the Alaska Food Hub and through the 9 Spice Pickled Onion Facebook page.

More in Life

A campfire can be seen at the Quartz Creek Campground in Cooper Landing, Alaska, in May 2020. (Clarion staff)
‘Real’ camping

For those not familiar with it, “glamping” is glamorous camping.

Bacon is prepared on a fire pit, June 19, 2020, in the Copper River Valley, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Eating from fire

My attitude toward camp cooking is that you can eat pretty much anything you would eat at home.

Irene Lampe dances a robe for its First Dance ceremony at the Sealaska Heritage Institute on Monday, June 22, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Annie Bartholomew)
Weavers celebrate new robe with first dance

The event is part of a resurgent trend for traditional weaving.

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Summer traditions

Over the years, a paella feed has marked momentous occasions, like moving or birthday parties.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Looking in the rearview mirror

I stepped through a time warp last week.

Concert on Your Lawn revives spirit of KBBI festival

The concert came about after the pandemic forced KBBI to cancel a planned Solstice weekend concert.

Minister’s Message: Finding hope in dark times

A life lived without hope is like a life lived without love.

Morel pasta is enjoyed outside on May 19, 2019, near Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Morels all the ways

When the Swan Lake Fire started, we knew we had an opportunity to get even more morels.

This portrait—one of few that Richard Shackelford reportedly allowed to be published—graced the 1909 commencement booklet for the California Polytechnic School, of which he was the president of the Board of Trustees. (Photo courtesy Clark Fair)
A tale of Two Shacklefords, in a way — part three

Untangling the origins of Shackleford Creek’s name.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: It’s all in the game

It’s amazing what a deck of cards or a set of dice can teach a young person.

Kachemak Cuisine: Find comfort in hard times by cooking good food

The first tastes of spring for me are rhubarb, fresh-caught fish from Kachemak Bay and chives.