Jammin’ with some Onions

When you think of jam, you generally envision something sticky sweet. Thick, luxurious, and a staple in sandwich-making. Accompanied by peanut butter or gently smeared across a piece of toast, it usually has a fruit-base and an almost dessert-like quality. You don’t think of onions.

But why not?

Onion jam atop goat cheese on a wheat cracker
Onion jam atop goat cheese on a wheat cracker

Onions can be sweet when allowed to caramelized to a deep, rich brown. And onions top sandwiches, too. Where would burgers be without them? Why not turn onions into jam?

I posed that question to myself last week and attempted to figure out–why not? My first attempt was, sadly, unsuccessful. Not because the onions didn’t lend themselves well to the experiment but rather, I walked away at the wrong time and burned the whole thing. After 3 hours of lovingly attending to them at the hot stove, on a hot summer day, I let it all go to waste in order to water my garden. Stupid garden. I scraped the remains into a jar, hoping for the best. Alas, the taste of the burn could not be ignored, even with my best efforts. So sad.

So I tried again. This time, I knew where I went wrong and that I would have to pay closer attention. I used a different pan this time (my Calphalon stainless steel saute pan instead of my le Creuset enameled cast iron) and the caramelization went much better. This was an improvement already! I carefully planned my other tasks so they wouldn’t coincide with crucial moments in the process and lo and behold, it worked. I made…one half-pint jar of onion jam after 3 hours. I can’t say this is a high-yielding recipe. Still, it’s worth the effort. Just make sure you stick with it and don’t walk away! I learned my lesson.

Think of this topping your most decadent burgers. Or laid upon a silky white pillow of goat cheese on fancy wheat crackers. Oh, yum! I think I’ll have some, right now

Onion jam on goat cheese on crackers

BLAAK Onion Jam
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Preserves
Serves: 1 half pint jar
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp Kerrygold butter
  • 4 cups Vidalia onions, chopped into chunky bits (about 2 large onions)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp Kerrygold butter (you can use other butter, but why not use the gold standard?). Add your chopped onions to the pan and allow them to caramelize, stirring periodically to ensure they’re not sticking to the pan. Once golden brown and very tender, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar and allow it to cook down to a thick syrup, stirring periodically. This could take up to one hour, but DON’T WALK AWAY!
  3. Add the maple syrup and allow to cook down to a thick syrup, stirring periodically. This can happen faster than you think–this is the critical stage. Give it your attention because it goes from WOW to YUCK pretty quickly here if you miss it.
  4. Once nicely thickened, remove from heat and transfer to a sterilized half-pint mason jar.
Notes
The original instructions mention inverting the jar to seal it–this is not the best canning advice. The acid content is high and likely, this would be somewhat shelf-stable, but I don’t feel right advising you to follow through on this practice. Rather, pop it in your fridge to use within a month. You only have one jar anyway so why not? Great as a topping on sandwiches, burgers, etc. It has a strong flavor so be sure to pair something with it that mellows it out, like goat cheese.


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