Friday, May 27, 2011

Sweet Vidalia Onion Jelly

Last week I came into a bushel of Vidalia onions. My father-in-law came back from his annual trip to the beach with bags and bags of these "straight out of the dirt" onions. It was pretty has also been pretty intimidating to have 50 pounds of onions in your kitchen with nary an idea of what to do with them. I've imagined bottling my own salad dressings, chopping and freezing some of them, but when I had serious questions of preservation, I went straight to the horse's mouth.

The Vidalia Onion Committee has a wealth of amazing recipes and history about the Vidalia onion which is sort of like Serrano ham or Champagne in that it can only be called a Vidalia if it's really, truly, honestly from Vidalia, Georgia. All onion'd out already? Let's get to it...

I decided to try the committee's recipe for Sweet Vidalia Onion Jelly last night. It turned out really nicely even if it only used up 3 of my eleventy million onions. The end product is something that a southern woman would spoon over a brick of cream cheese and serve with crackers. I also imagine a dollop in my meatloaf mixture or as a pork glaze. In its wildest dreams, I imagine that this peppery-onion-y jelly, which is really more "jammy", would love to be paired with some cream Havarti and a fresh pear. (and, maybe a cracker.)

The recipe is as follows:

3 cups chopped Vidalia onions
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2.5-3 cups sugar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 box of powdered fruit pectin (no sugar needed variety)


Puree the onion and vinegar in the blender until smooth. Pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 5 minutes and then add the pectin. Bring to a hard boil for 1 minute. Pour into hot, sterilized jars. Secure the lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Some notes about this: First of all, I chose to use my food processor for the whole chopping/pureeing process which worked fine. I then added all other ingredients in the pot. I wasn't happy with the color with only 6 minutes of cooking time. It seemed sort of like white mush with red flaking. I cooked the entire mixture a bit longer--probably 10-15 minutes to bring a more caramelized color. It also allowed some of the red pepper flavor to infuse a bit more. I added a bit more cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, and probably ended up using 3 cups of sugar. I got 5 half pint jars of the jelly with a little left over to sample. I processed them for 15 minutes just to be on the safe side.

This recipe turned out really well, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with other ways to save the Vidalia onion season.