Onion jams are a traditional French dish, it is a rather beautiful condiment composed of sweet, onions slow-cooked over low to medium fire and then seasoned with some salt to balance the caramelized sweetness. Onion jams are a wonder to make. You start by continuously stirring the onions, even up to the bottom to ensure that no onion strings will be burned. Then, you can add some red wine, rosemary, and balsamic vinegar to your liking.
Again, the beauty of this dish is time. You can never rush it. Some take two weeks or even a month to develop the flavors. Like any other country-style recipes, onion jams are a thing of beauty.
Onion Jam Trivia
- Ever wonder why onions bring tears to your eyes? Well, it’s because of the onion’s sulphuric compounds. But, there’s a very simple solution to this. Chill the onion and cut the roots, then you can freely chop the onions. But some people are still not immune to this.
- Libya is one of the countries that consume the most onions.
- The United States has a different agricultural landscape so there are less than 1,000 farmers in the US.
- French onion marmalades are very common in the French regions. It is usually mixed with foie gras then served during Christmas or New Year.
Onion Jam Buying Guide
Onion jams in the US are both sold as commercialized goods and artisan products. It all depends on the flavors, acidity, and quality you are looking for. Some people like thick and oozy onion jams, meanwhile others like to see the silky onion strands in their jams because it makes sandwiches and soups lovelier and more home-made.
Now you can’t expect the same consistency for commercialized products as high-acting machines all produce their products. Additives, chemicals, and preservatives are also added to elongate shelf-life and improve the flavors.
Of course, that’s not to say that artisan or homemade onion jams are inferior. We prefer these products over their commercially-produced counterparts. The most obvious differences are the textures, flavors, and colors, but we’d rather support our local farmers’ markets, onion producers, and artisan jam makers to promote sustainability.
Onion Jam Production & Farming in Texas
How wonderfully sweet would it be to enjoy onion jams all year long! Onions can be grown in Texas, but only for a limited time. First, you need to choose the right type of onion that will grow in your area, whether it’s short-day, intermediate and long-day onions. Planting the wrong onion type will lead to disastrous results.
First, there are two special onions from Texas: the Texas Spring Sweet and the Texas 1015 Super Sweet Onions. Texas Spring Sweet Onions came from Bermuda Islands and were brought to Cotulla in 1898. Meanwhile, the Texas 1015 Onions was developed by Texas A&M University. As the name suggests, it’s best to plant these on October 15.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Commercially produced onion jams contain additives, preservatives, and chemicals that will extend the product’s shelf-life and improve their appearance. However, it can be harmful for the consumers’ bodies.
Pectin is available in both its natural and chemical states. However, most commercially produced jams and jellies also use chemical pectin as a major ingredient because it is stable and is readily available as bulk supplies. It is said that using pectin is harmless to humans but recent studies have stated that pectin can be a major cause of stomach cramps and diarrhea for people with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. Pectin also prevents the body from absorbing beta-carotene and is considered to interfere with other synthetic drugs such as Digoxin, Tetracycline antibiotics, and Lovastine.
Both Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid are the main ingredients of any preserves. Ascorbic and Citric acids function as preservatives by increasing the acidity content of the preserves. Thereby, reducing any bacterial or mold growth. Ascorbic acid mainly functions as a preservative and does not interfere with the food’s flavor. Meanwhile, ascorbic acid can also be used as a souring or even pickling agent in preserves, jams, and jellies.
Onion jams are cooked for a long time because artisan producers prefer to caramelize the onion’s natural sugars before proceeding to the jam-making process. There are different ways to make onion jams, and every recipe is different depending on the region or families involved. This is similar to the canning process. Although there are standard procedures for the canning process, every family has their way of canning and assuring that the onion jams will be preserved and enjoyed for a long time.
The most basic item for packaging onion jams is to use sterilized jars. Fill the jars with onion am until it reaches 90% storage capacity. Boil them for 10-15 minutes, remove the jars and allow them to cool. Seal the jar afterward to prevent contamination.
Enjoying Onion Jams
Onion jams are a great way to elevate your steaks and sandwiches. Onion jams can be added while searing your steaks as they contribute to the caramelization and the Maillard effect. The sweetness also perfectly blends with the tenderness of the beef. Everyone loves the taste of caramelized onion jams in sandwiches, burgers, and pizzas. The salty, sweet, and tangy flavors are too addicting to ignore.
Like any other jams, onion jams need can be stored at room temperature if they’re unopened. They would be fine as long as air would not be re-introduced into the mixture. However, opened cans of onion jams should be refrigerated and would be good for three to six months, but not for a year since onion jams can spoil easily.
Do check the onion jams for molds and yeasts. If they emit a sour and fermenting smell, then it’s best to toss them in the bin. Don’t risk it as spoiled onion jams can impose health risks.
CARAMELIZED ONION JAM
Delight in this French staple, by making your own caramelized onion jams. It takes a lot of time, so do not rush them.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large sweet onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 rosemary sprig
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onions and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Tie the parsley, bay leaves and rosemary together with kitchen twine. Add the herb bundle to the diced onions and cook over low heat, stirring a few times, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and cook, without stirring, until the sugar melts, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until an amber-brown caramel forms, about 6 minutes. Stir in the white balsamic vinegar and simmer over low heat, stirring a few times, until the jam is thick, about 5 minutes. Discard the herb bundle. Season the jam with salt and let cool to warm.