My daughters school held a BBQ at a local market yesterday. Unfortunately the weather was pretty damn hot (41C), and patronage at the market was down on its usual numbers. As a result we had quite a few sliced onions left over. Naturally (read foolishly) I decided to ignore climatic conditions and spend 3 hours stirring a pot over a hot stove making onion jam (albeit with glass of sparkling wine in hand). While I was stirring my mind turned to what makes a good preserve, and in particular a good chutney or ‘savoury’ jam.
For me it is all about the right mix of sweet and sour coupled with a pleasing texture. I have any number of jars of mediocre preserves sitting unopened in my cupboard because they fail on one or all of these points. As a result I am on a personal mission to find the perfect preserve recipe (for my tastes) for every fruit or veg I could possibly get in large numbers. This may take a while as I have only ticked off one – I am very happy with my adaptation of the recipe for Bread & Butter Cucumbers from Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion. So that’s cucumbers sorted. But what about other veg?
Yesterday was my 2nd attempt at making Onion Jam this season. The first attempt, whilst enjoyable, wasn’t exactly what I was looking to create. I used a CWA recipe for onion marmalade from a preserves book I was given for Christmas. The recipe can also be found here. Whilst I enjoyed it I found the flavour a little raw, despite cooking it for a good 3 hours. This time though I decided to sauté the onions (and a little thyme) in a small amount of olive oil before adding the sugar and vinegar. I think I’ve got a lot closer to what I was trying to achieve (although I think it could have benefitted from a little chilli – but then again what couldn’t?). I should really have cooked mine for a little longer as it isn’t exactly set. I reckon it will still taste delicious in a bacon sandwich though. Here is my revised recipe:
Onion Jam (makes about 2 litres of jam)
- 2kg sliced onions
- 2kg sugar (I used a mix of white and dark sugar as that is what I had in the pantry)
- 1 litre apple cider vinegar
- 2 tblspns salt (this is a reduction on the 3 tbspns for half the quantity of onions specified in the original recipe – I’m not sure what impact this will have on its keeping qualities).
- 1 tblspn olive oil
- Leaves from about 10 sprigs on thyme
Saute the onions and thyme in the oil until they colour slightly (this will take quite a long time). Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the jam reaches setting point – about 2.5 hours. Seal in sterilised jars. Note: This makes a very sweet onion jam.
In the original recipe it suggests that this will store “in a dark cupboard for a long time”, however I am not knowledgeable enough about preserves to know how reducing the salt and adding oil will affect its keeping qualities. If you know I would love to hear from you.
I would also like to know about any perfect recipes you have for dealing with a particular crop. A recipe you wouldn’t want to change, that you are pretty much 100% happy with, that doesn’t need tweeking and you happily eat every single jar of, every year that you make it.
My next post in this series will be peaches – I have been playing with the base recipe on The Witches Kitchen’s excellent post about mango chutney and in a week or two (when the chutney has matured a bit) I should know how successful I have been.