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Pastoral Preserves: Onion Jam

Apologies for the quiet here, and for the lack of a market post this weekend. I’ve just returned from a Bank Holiday weekend (that’s British for “long weekend”) in Wales, visiting Andrew’s parents. As usual, their corner of Britain was the picture of pastoral bliss; we went to the seaside, took in a country fair (complete with show jumping and a sheep shearing contest), took a steam train to the summit of Mount Snowdon and saw a waterfall so pretty you’d swear faeries lived there. In true British fashion, the weather ranged from “so cold I think my fingers are going to fall off” to “maybe I’ll hang out on the patio and top up my tan”.

Of course, in between all this country fun there was country food as well. We ate Welsh leeks, a cobbler based on this one from Smitten Kitchen, and plenty of snacks while out and about. There was homegrown fare, too; Andrew’s Mum has a huge and impressive garden, and she tasked us with harvesting the last of this summer’s onions. Of course, we weren’t allowed to go home without taking several of them with us, which is where this recipe comes in.

I’m not much of a preserver, but I’ve dabbled before. I’ve made simple strawberry jam, and my own ketchup earlier this year. Onion jam is something I’ve been wanting to add to that list for a while, so when faced with a pound of garden-fresh red and yellow onions, I knew just what to do.

Based on a Rachel Allen recipe, this jam is very sweet, yet savoury as well. She calls for red onions only, but I think a mix gives a more interesting flavour, topped up with lots of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and red wine. I’ve already been enjoying it with strong cheese flavours, and for the meat-eaters among you, I bet it would be good with a roast, too. The best thing? All the sugar and alcohol means this jam will last for months and months, long enough to tide me over until our next country adventure.

  • Onion Jam
  • adapted from Home Cooking by Rachel Allen
  • makes about 500g/1 1/2 cups
  • 25g butter
    600g red and yellow onions, peeled and sliced
    100g dark brown sugar
    sea salt, to taste
    100ml balsamic vinegar
    200ml red wine
  • 1. Melt the butter in a large nonstick saucepan and add the onions, sugar and a good pinch of salt. Cook for 30-35 minutes over a very low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft but not too browned.

    2. Add the vinegar and wine and stir well. Turn up the heat a little and cook for another 30-35 minutes, until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

    3. When the jam is no longer hot but still warm, transfer to a sterilised jar (rinse it well in boiling water) with an airtight seal. Keep in the fridge for up to six months.

5 comments

  1. Oh yes please…I would devour this with some good bread and cheese! Looks delicious…!

  2. Halyna says:

    Hi Ele,
    Really enjoy your blog and recipes, plus the pictures are so nice to look at. However, I don’t know how to translate British cooking measures into cups, tsps, tbsps, etc. For example, the onion jam recipe calls for 600g of sliced onions — is that by weight or is there a conversion to cups? What does 100g brown sugar mean — should I weight the sugar or is it 1/2 cup?

    Is there an easy way to convert grams to North American cooking measures?

    Whatever help you can provide would be great. And looking forward to more recipes, pics and tips from The Kitchenist.

    Thanks

  3. Ele says:

    Hi Halyna,

    There are a couple ingredient converts available online, which allow the user to pick an ingredient and see all volume and weight measures. Obviously, some are more accurate than others, but they’re worth a try:
    http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/cooking
    http://www.onlineconversion.com/weight_volume_cooking.htm

    But, I strongly suggest that you go the The Bay or Sears and get yourself a small electronic kitchen scale! When I first got mine (a gift), I thought it was ridiculous and that I’d never use it, but now I’d never be without one. Not only does it open up a whole new world of recipes (weight-based ones) to you, but it’s much more accurate than volume, particularly for baking. It can also help limit the washing up- you can add an ingredient, reset the scale to zero, add the next one, etc.

    When I post recipes here I tend to do so in whichever form they were originally written. So if it came from a North American book or blog it’s in volume, from one of my British books, by weight. It’s not consistent but it does help to keep the recipes accurate!

  4. Oh wow. You had me at the title! I’m an onion girl, so this sounds like a wonderful new recipe for me! Have a great weekend, dear! xo

  5. Vicki says:

    Hi Ele,
    Will definitely be trying this one! Thanks!
    Vicki :)