I know, right? Marmalade. Onion. Sounds weird. Think chutney, though, and all of a sudden it’s hotdogs, sharp cheddar & crisp crackers, alongside chops, grilled cheese toasties….the list is endless. Why is it called marmalade? No idea. Maybe because it’s very sugary, or because the lovely thin strands of sweetly pickled onions look like curls of orange rind in marmalade. Who knows. Whatever; it’s delicious with just about anything. Though maybe not ice cream. Mind you it is quite sweet….
A glut of organic onions having hit the Chopsticks kitchen recently, it was time to wheel out an old recipe of mine for Onion Marmalade (..thinking chutney still?) which, according to my scrawled notes, I once used in 2002. It’s in imperial measures because it’s an old recipe. I have made a concession to modernity in brackets in the ingredients list only, because I am, ultimately, a lazy cow. Deal with it. So here we go.
- 4 pounds (1.8kg) onions, peeled
- 1.5 pints (845ml) good cider vinegar
- 2 pounds (900g) raw organic sugar (it doesn’t have to be raw organic but heck, the onions were good quality, why shouldn’t the sugar be?)
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 10 cloves
- 10 star anise
- 3 sticks cinnamon
- 6 cardomom pods
- 2 dried chillies (go crazy if you like it hot)
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1) Chop your onions. This is a bucketload so I recommend using a processor with one of those slicing attachments if you have it; that way if you cut your onion in half like so:
and feed it sideways into your processor chute, you end up with lovely long slices a la marmalade strips. Pretty. It makes not one jot of difference to the taste though so hack ’em up however you see fit.
2) Place sliced onions and all the other ingredients into a large saucepan. The vinegar never looks enough here, and I always end up adding more. In this case, 1.3 pints, which I then have to boil off. I never learn. 1 pint would have done here.
See? Suddenly there is enough liquid.
5) Ladle carefully into sterilised jars and label when cold. You can pick out the larger spices first if you like.
6) Put the jars somewhere cool and dark for at least a month to pickle. Longer if you can. If you open one and it tastes like pickled onions, leave the rest another month at least. And I guess treat the jar you opened as…pickled onions!