Caramelised Onion Jam

Thursday, March 15, 2012

food painting for the vegetarian cookbook by Fiona Morgan
Versatile. Thrifty. Leisurely. Unusual.

Food painting artwork

30 x 30cm oil on linen. You may know by now that I am quite a fan of rock art, petroglyphs and ancient Neolithic symbols. Onion jam, which starts out as a very large pile of rings of our ancient onion friend, seemed a perfect excuse to explore the ancient symbols of spirals and concentric rings.

food painting for the vegetarian cookbook by Fiona Morgan

food painting for the vegetarian cookbook by Fiona Morgan

food painting for the vegetarian cookbook by Fiona Morgan

food painting for the vegetarian cookbook by Fiona Morgan

food painting for the vegetarian cookbook by Fiona Morgan

Did you know you can download images of the paintings for your own personal (not commercial) use? Computer wallpaper, Facebook profile picture, yes you can. Find your favourite painting on Flickr, go to actions, view all sizes, download the size you want to your device, set it as your wallpaper or profile. And tell your friends where it came from :)

Original artwork can be purchased in the Official Art Store. This particular piece is currently drying and will be available shortly for $150. To find out exactly when that is, get on the mailing list, yellow box top left.


The meatless meals recipe

There are so many cooking notes to go with this. I made at least ten versions, testing out all sorts of variables. Where do I start?

Ok first, the onions. It doesn't matter which colour you use. The long slow cooking is the real secret to this recipe. Red onions do give a fuller deeper rich colour, as you may expect, but the flavour is most affected by thoroughly caramelising whichever onions you use.

Sweetener. Either white or brown sugar in the quantities given works well, but avoid honey as it's sweetness is too unpredictable. One version I did was sickly with just 1/4 cup of honey. That is not right. Honey is usually less sweet than sugar, but this is not reliable.

Vinegars. Balsamic vinegar gives the most robust and flavoursome onion jam by far of all the variations I tried. If you prefer something milder, I recommend red wine which was easily the tastiest of the milder variations. Then there is white wine (untested), white wine vinegar (insipid), apple cider vinegar (really weak flavour with no depth), red wine vinegar (ok, a bit weak and lacking in flavour depth), malt vinegar (good - mild but acceptable), or sherry (really weak flavour with no depth). If you decide to use one of the weaker flavoured vinegars, cutting back the sugar a little seems to help them in the taste department.

Spices. A clove or two of garlic, a couple of chillis, and olives are other spices that are sometimes added to onion jam. Whatever floats your boat. I didn't like any of these variations.

1-4 tablespoons olive or canola oil, as required to prevent sticking
550-580g onion slices - about 4 large onions of any colour (white, brown or red)
1/4 cup white sugar or 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 x 5cm stick cinnamon
2-3 star anise, or a few big pinches of ground nutmeg if you detest anise flavour

Cook the onions long and slow in a pan with enough oil to prevent them sticking. Stir frequently. Do not let them burn or crisp at any stage. Keep cooking. They need to be FULLY softened with absolutely no crunch whatsoever. If in doubt, keep cooking. I find this stage takes at least 20 minutes.
Then add in the sugar, vinegar and spices.
Keep cooking long and slow, stirring as needed, until the onions have fully caramelised into one dark sweet sticky mass. I find this takes about an hour.
Again, if in doubt, keep on cooking.

Makes about 1 cup of onion jam. Keep in a container in the fridge. It improves with age :)

Enjoy as an accompaniment to cheese or roast tomatoes (OMG!). Use it wherever you might use chutney. It tends to pair very well with eggs, cheese and tomatoes, and in some instances, potatoes and pumpkin.


More vegetarian cookbook goodies

Need help with cooking conversions? Download this handy dandy pdf of cooking conversion charts for every cooking measuring system I could find. It should make your life easier.

Where are the rest of the vegetarian dinner recipes? They're all in the Table of Contents.

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2 thoughts

  1. 1/4 c white sugar OR 3/4 c brown sugar? I don't make sweet recipes but these measurements don't make sense to me.

  2. You can use either sugar. The amount you will need for the same level of sweetness is different for different sugars.


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