Caramelized Onion Relish
January 16, 2011
I love my pantry. This may be an unusual favorite room of the house, but for me it is a place of comfort and a source of pride. Come visit my home and I’ll be sure to show you my special place. Though it is not often in perfect order, my pantry is my sanctuary. In our small home, this is the place where I can escape (briefly, until someone finds me) the commotion and demands of the other members of the family. Inside its walls I store my stacks of cookbooks, the baskets of garlic, squash, and potatoes harvested from last summer’s garden, and of course my canned goods. My pantry shelves are full of all the grains, beans, seeds, and more required to make almost anything I can dream of.
And then there is “my pantry shelf.” This particular shelf is full of all of my favorite tastes of the various seasons, harvested and processed, canned to enjoy year round. There is the applesauce from my parent’s apple trees, the blackberry jam, from last summer’s walk along the creek, the salsas from the late summer tomato extravaganza, the pickled corn, okra, green beans, and zucchini. “My pantry shelf” not only satisfies my families desire for diverse tastes year round, but it also is an archive of our garden and our life. Just looking at the jars brings me a deep sense of satisfaction. Evidence of hard work and good times spent in the garden and kitchen.
The bulk of my canning is done in summer. I spend days (and more often nights- after the kids have gone to bed) sweating over the canning pot every August and September. There is a fever that drives my need to put food up. Though by the end of the season, I vow off the jars. My shelf is full and I have to force myself to turn my back on any more abundance that threatens to inspire me. Luckily, with a break of a few months, I am ready to can again. Many jars, once full, are ready to be refilled. In winter, I break out my pot, jars, and lids and make Caramelized Onion Relish.
This sweet and tangy relish is incredible. It is basically caramelized onions cooked down with wine, sugar, and vinegar. We serve it as an appetizer with goat cheese, alongside grilled meats, or atop a burger. It is outstanding on a pizza with Manchego or other sharp cheese. This relish keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks, freezes well, and of course, can be put up in jars as well. It is an excellent pantry staple or hostess gift.
adapted from the Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving
by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard
makes 6 cups
4 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups dry red wine
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper (or to taste)
IMPORTANT: if you intend to can this, do not use oil! The onions will provide plenty of moisture to the pan.
Place the onions in a pot over medium heat. Stir in the sugar. Cook uncovered for 3o minutes or so, or until the onions are soften and start to brown and caramelize. Stir frequently. If the onions produce a lot of moisture, cook down until liquid has almost completely evaporated.
Stir in the wine, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer15-20 minutes until the liquid has reduced and begins to thicken. Taste and correct seasoning.
Note: The cooking time will vary widely depending on the water content of your onions. The times given are based on average supermarket onions. If you have fresher onions, they will require more time for the moisture to evaporate.
Ladle relish into hot sterile jars. Leave a 1/2 inch head-space. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes for half-pint jars. See Home Canning Basics for more information about the canning process.
This relish also freezes well in case you don’t want to bother with canning.
Here is a printer-friendly version: Caramelized Onion Relish
Try this relish on Southwestern Chicken Burgers!
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