This curried onion jam was a completely off-the-cuff, intuitive experiment that turned out so well that it will become a permanent part of my canning repertoire. Now I’m sorry that I made such a small batch! Though not particularly photogenic, it has a memorable and intriguing sweet and sour flavor with a lingering aftertaste from the spicy curry and the onion. And it has a good “mouth feel.” I can imagine it served as a condiment, as an appetizer with crackers, or spooned into a squash soup, which is what I did with the small amount that didn’t get water bath canned.
The method and proportion of sugar to vinegar to onions came from a recipe for Onion Marmalade by Pam Corbin in her book Preserves, which is No. 2 in the River Cottage Handbook series (an amazing collection, highly recommended for the beauty of the books as well as their informative contents). I halved her recipe and changed several ingredients.
The three-step cooking method progresses from long and low to short and high. After cooking the sliced onions very slowly in a large covered saucepot, sugar is added and the heat increased to cook off the liquid. Instead of the red currant jelly suggested by the original recipe, I added sultana raisins, the ones that are dark yellow. I also added curry powder. After the mixture has cooked down again, the pan is removed from the heat and cooled so that when the vinegar is added in the next step, it doesn’t instantly vaporize. The heat is again turned up a notch and the mixture lightly boiled until thick.
Curried Onion Jam (makes 2 half-pint jars)
2 lbs yellow onions, thinly sliced (10 cups)
3 tbsp olive oil
½ cup turbinado or demerara sugar (I used demerara)
1-2 tbsp raisins (I used organic Turkish sultanas)
1 ¼ tsp spicy curry powder
2/3 cup cider vinegar
½ tsp salt or to taste
Prepare the jars and water bath canner. Place the onions in oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook, covered, over low heat for about 40 minutes. Remove the lid, add the sugar, curry and raisins and increase the heat to medium high. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until much of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is a dark golden color. Remove from the heat to cool. (The next step involves adding vinegar and you don’t want to add it to a hot pan because it will evaporate in a noxious cloud.) Return the pan to the stove, add the vinegar and cook at high heat, stirring, for 7-10 minutes until the mixture is thick and gooey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into hot jars, seal and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes after the water has come to a boil. Remove canner’s lid and let sit for 5 minutes before removing jars to the counter to cool.