Caramelized Onion Preserves

October 24, 2011


A thoughtful reader (who obviously knows more about canning than I do!) has asked if the acid level here and water batch canning method is enough to satisfy the food safety police.  I’d made an assumption that if fruits were considered acidic enough then onions would be too, especially with a little added vinegar.  Of course, as is often the case, assumptions can’t be trusted to be right.  So, to be on the safe side keep these in the fridge and use them promptly or process them in a pressure cooker.  Do some research and decide what you trust.


I know what you’re probably thinking.  Preserves?  As in sweet and fruity and goes on toast?  Made with onions??  Well, this isn’t quite the same thing.  Sure, it’s a little sweet but that’s from all the caramelized onion goodness.  Use them however you’d use onions.  They’re great on a cheeseburger.  I tossed them in with spaghetti and a little beef bouillon and topped the mix with cheese for an easy lunch.  They’re perfect with pork.  Use your imagination.

And even though I canned them for the pantry, you can skip all that if you want to store them in the fridge.  Just put them into clean jars and refrigerate.  I’m sure they’ll get eaten before they go bad!

  • Sweet Yellow Onions, 5 to 6 pounds
  • Brown Sugar, 2/3 cup
  • Balsamic Vinegar, 1/4 cup
  • Butter, 1/2 cup
  • Black Pepper
  • Canning Jars with Lids and Bands, 6 half-pints

Wash the jars, lids and rings and put the jars and rings into a large pot.  Cover with water and boil for ten minutes.  Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let them sit until you’re ready to fill them.  Put the lids in a small saucepan and keep them hot at an almost- simmer until you’re ready for them.

Peel the onions.  I cut off the ends then make a very shallow slit along one side then remove the outer, papery layer.

Now slice them into thin rings.

In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat until it begins to bubble.  Add the onions.  Don’t worry, they’ll cook down and fit in just fine.

As the onions begin to soften, stir them up and season with a little black pepper.  Reduce the heat to low.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over low heat until they’re nice and brown and soft.  This takes a good 20 minutes or more.  Add the sugar and continue cooking for another few minutes.

Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan and cook another couple of minutes.

Use clean tongs to take the jars out of the hot water bath.  Save the pot of hot water because the jars are going right back in.

Use tongs or a spoon to fill the jars with onions.

Spoon in the liquid from the pan to fill the jars to the top, getting rid of air pockets.  Use clean tongs to place the lids on the jars then lightly screw on the lids.  Place the jars back in the hot water and bring them to a boil.  Boil for another ten to fifteen minutes.

Remove them from the water and let them cool a little.  You should hear the lids pop and see the indentation that means the jars are sealed.  Tighten the lids completely before storing.  Enjoy!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Mary Henriques October 30, 2013 at 6:33 am

Onions need to be pressure canned because they are not acidic enough. The caramelized onion recipe I use is 70 minutes in the pressure canner.


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