End of month recipe: Caramelised Onions

So, you’ve got your overwintered onions, all big and juicy and you want to be able to use them for months – but they don’t keep like summer onions, so how can you ensure you’ve got that wonderful mild sweet flavour on hand?

If you have a slow cooker (and if you grow your own food, a slow cooker is just about the most useful thing you’ll ever invest in) then you can caramelise kilos of onions overnight, freeze them, and use them in handy portion controlled ways, right through the year.
The greatest thing is that these onions are sweet. Something weird happens to the sulphur compounds in onions when you cook them very slowly – they turn to sugar. There’s no added sugar or salt in this recipe but when you taste the results, you won’t believe it: the onions are tangy and sweet just from the cooking process.


Enough onions to fill a 6 litre slow cooker (in our case, that’s two kilos of onions, peeled and sliced)
100 grams butter or 45 ml olive oil (I’ve tried both, they taste equally great).


Put the slow cooker onto low and rub the base and sides with a little olive oil. If you’re using butter, just rub the sides and base of the cooker with a teaspoon of olive oil anyway.

Chuck in the onions. Drizzle the oil over the top or dice the butter and throw it in. Stir well. Put lid on. Set a timer for thirty minutes.

When the timer goes, stir well and replace lid. Set timer for a further 30 minutes. Stir, replace lid, leave for up to 12 hours. You have to experiment with your own cooker. My small one did this recipe in eight hours but with only half the onions, so find out what works best for you.

Usually I set this up overnight and sort it out in the morning. I’m left with a layer of delicious onions in a thick, sweet liquid. I turn off the heat, allow the cooker to cool, then drain the onions in a colander, over a bowl, saving the liquid. The onions I freeze in small containers, about a tablespoon is enough to serve as the base for a savoury dish. The liquid I use as the base for a mushroom risotto or a rich soup.

You can also use the onions to make caramelised onion flan – very tasty!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Friday, June 29, 2012


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