The lowly onion. A kitchen staple, key to so many dishes, yet most always a supporting actor, seldom the main character. Okay, French Onion Soup features this tasty root well, as does a nice plate of onion rings, hot from the oil. (Yes, onion rings are a meal. The way I make them.) A cleverly built onion frittata makes a great breakfast. Side dishes and appetizers include onion dips, pickled onions and more.
What about jams and jellies, though. Where are the onions in that? Right here, actually.
Stonewall Kitchen (no, they’re not from Stonewall, Texas) offer an interesting product: Roasted Garlic Onion Jam. I bought a jar as a Christmas present once, and promptly forgot about it. My daughter tried it on a pork roast, though, and the rest is history.
She said I simply HAD to make this jam. Multiple batches would be good; a five-gallon tub would be better.
Okay, time to do some research. I had a fair idea of what would be required, but it never hurts to
casually look over a few websites do hours and hours of tedious digging and studying, so as to get it perfect. With my recent experiences with pepper jelly production I knew I could handle the kitchen part if I got the ingredients right.
To make a short story long, it’s actually easier than you might think. Oh, it takes a while, but the steps aren’t hard, and like a lot of good cooking, there’s considerable inactive time while things come together. The stages are: Make roasted garlic; make caramelized onions; make the jam; process the jam for long-term storage. (Not that I actually expect it to last long.) Said that way, you can see it’s not tough.
Let’s start with the roasted garlic. Buy six heads (bulbs) of fresh garlic. Remove excess paper-skin, but don’t separate the cloves. Cut the top of the bulb to provide access to the cloves, and remove any excess root threads so the bulb will stand up. Place each bulb on a piece of foil large enough to loosely enclose the bulb. Drizzle in about half a teaspoon of good-quality olive oil, right on the exposed ends of the cloves. Wrap each bulb in foil, then place the payloads on a baking sheet and bake at 400° F for about 45 minutes. Let stand until warm to the touch (or room temperature).
Open the foil and prepare to get messy! Grasp a bulb of roasted garlic near its base and squeeze the soft, gooey cloves out into a bowl. Use a spoon or butter knife to separate the golden-brown goodness from the dead husk, if required. A full description of this process (with pics and a special technique you might try) is shown here. Cover and refrigerate your roasted garlic for later. By the way, it’s just as easy to make a dozen bulbs as it is a half-dozen, and roasted garlic is great in so many applications. Make plenty while you’re at it.
Phase One done; on to the onions!
I cut a mixture of Texas 1015 Sweets and some ordinary yellow Spanish onions into thin rings, then roughly chopped the rings into pieces. These pieces were a mixture of lengths, but the longest were no longer than about 1.5 inches. I had 7-8 cups of onion pieces when I was done. They were so beautiful I just had to cry. Then I got the other ingredients together: 1/3 cup butter, 1.5 cup apple cider vinegar, and about 2/3 cup lemon juice. I also got out balsamic vinegar (1/3 cup or so), ground mustard (2 teaspoons), ground ginger (1/2 teaspoon), ground cloves (1/4 teaspoon, though I stubbed my toe and got more in the pot, something closer to 1/2 teaspoon), and sugar (3 cups). I used some liquid Stevia concentrate to provide the remaining sweetness while reducing the sugar content, a standard technique I’ve discussed elsewhere.
Using my new jelly pot, I melted the butter over medium heat, then added the onions and stirred. I set a timer for 8 minutes, and every time it went off I stirred the pot well, checking for color in the onions. They cook down a lot at this point, and it takes patience to keep stirring and cooking. Don’t be tempted to run the heat up for speed, you’ll scorch the onions that way. And believe me, nobody wants scorched onion jam!
Once the onions have achieved a nice, golden brown, it’s time to build the jam. First, though, I set my canner up with water and got that heating so it’d be ready to go when the jam’s done. I put some (cleaned) half-pint jelly jars in the oven and heated to 250° F.
In went most of the remaining ingredients: The roasted garlic (I mashed mine with a fork), cider vinegar, lemon juice, seasonings, and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar. This makes the jam a deep brownish-gold color; if you want a lighter color, use white balsamic vinegar instead of the regular stuff. I put in a couple strong pinches of salt too, as a flavor enhancer. I set the heat to high, then stirred and stirred. No scorching allowed! I added the sugar and Stevia and kept stirring slowly. I wanted a strong, rolling boil. After the mix has boiled for 2-3 minutes, I added 3 tablespoons of powdered, no-sugar-needed pectin to the mix. To prevent clumping, I mixed the pectin into 1/3 cup of sugar first, then dusted it across the top of the boiling jelly while stirring.
After a minute more of boiling, I took the jelly pot from the heat and grabbed jars from the oven. A quick fill to the recommended level, covering with pre-softened flats, then spinning on the rings (lightly finger-tight only, of course), I processed the jars in the canner for 10 minutes. I took the hot jars from the canner and let cool completely. (If any jars should fail to seal, simply store that jam in the refrigerator; it’ll be good for a couple of months.) I got seven half-pints from this batch, plus a bit in a bowl for snacking. Great on Triscuits.
We used some of the fresh-made jelly on a pork roast, as cooking sauce and glaze. Scrumptious! Jess tried to sneak off with the rest of the lot, but I saved back a couple. At least I think I managed to hide them well enough; hmm, maybe I should go check…
Enjoy the (Allium’s Well That Ends Well) Heat!
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