One of my favorite preserves to make (and to swap every month at the San Diego Food Swap) is caramelized onion chutney. This is for several main reasons: onions are always available and usually quite cheap, it smells amazing while it’s slowly simmering, and it’s delicious on just about anything. Use it as a topping on a warmed wheel of brie … on any roasted or smoked meat … on a nice cracker with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese … in your scrambled eggs … to add some depth of flavor to soups or roasts … the list goes on.
First, the onions. I like to mix them up; using some sweet, some red and pungent, some simple brown or yellow. About three pounds total, sliced into thin slivers.
I also change up the original recipe by Val Harrison by using up to three different types of vinegar (I use a splash of apple cider or red wine vinegar in addition to the malt vinegar and balsamic). As you can imagine, three pounds of raw onion is quite a bit. In addition to taking you a good 10 minutes to peel and slice — with frequent breaks for face-washing as your eyes water profusely — you’ll have enough to fill a pretty big pot. Add a bit of olive oil to start the onions cooking, and 12-14 ounces of brown sugar, as well as garlic powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cloves, salt and pepper (1 tsp. each), plus 3 oz or so of balsamic and malt vinegars, and a splash of red wine or apple cider vinegar. These do not have to be exact measurements and you will likely want to add more of all of these spices at the end.
Don’t worry, this will cook down to about 2/3 to a half of the total mass. Let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for about three hours or until the onions look like this:
… then add the juice of one lemon, give it a taste and add more spices and/ or splashes of vinegar as needed, and once you’re happy with the taste, ladle it into hot, sterilized mason jars, and process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.