Christmas kitchen – red onion marmalade


There’s a timely article in the paper today about foods to eat to help keep the winter blues at bay once the clocks go back. Oily fish, green vegetables and onions feature highly.

I’ve blogged about making red onion marmalade before and on a chilly Autumn day in October I like to have something to show for my time when I can’t make much headway in the garden. There are bulbs to plant, weeds to hoe and pruning to be done but the soil is so cold and wet that I’m loathe to trample piles of soil all over the lawn and the terrace ( I use the terms ‘lawn’ and ‘terrace’ in their loosest sense!).

This October’s red onion marmalade is 2 kilos of red onions sweated down for 45 minutes over a low heat with 140g butter , a good slug of olive oil (about 4 tbsp), a generous tbsp of fresh thyme leaves, a small handful of dried chilli flakes, salt, black pepper, 140 g muscovado sugar and a spoonful of ground gloves. Once the onions are soft to the touch (they should break easily if you press them with a spoon) add a 75cl bottle of cheap red wine, 350ml of red wine vinegar and 200ml port. Simmer over the heat until 2/3rds of the liquid has evaporated. Cool slightly and then pot into sterilised jars.

They should  be stored in the larder or a cool, dark cupboard where they will keep well for three to six months, by which time they will be long gone and you’ll need to make another batch. By Christmas it will be yumsome. I’m going to add some to a food parcel for my eldest who is away at Uni and mentioned ‘home cooking’ at least four times in his weekly phone call home yesterday.

The Freecycle Harvest

A week or so ago I was bemoaning the lack of quince this year. I put the call out with our local Freecycle group and less than an hour later someone approached me furtively on the school playground and stuffed a large hessian bag into my arms whilst uttering an apologetic “I’m so sorry they’re not quince”. I peered inside at a few kilos of tomatoes – all beautiful, all organically grown heritage varieties, all green. So they weren’t quince but they were the makings of a large pot of spicy tomato chutney. I was chuffed, nevertheless.

Here’s my recipe in case  you find yourself in a similarly fortunate position….

2 kilos tomatoes, mixed green and red

700g onions

200g raisins

500g light muscovado sugar

2 medium sized, hot red chillies

1 tsp salt

4 tsp yellow mustard seeds

600ml white wine vinegar

Chop the tomatoes into halves or quarters. Put the green fruit together with the peeled and roughly chopped onions, into a large preserving pan with the raisins, sugar, chilli, salt, mustard seeds and vinegar. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for an hour or two, stirring occasionally stir to reduce the risk of the chutney sticking. After about 1/2 hour cooking, add the ripe tomatoes and continue to simmer. When thick and glossy, spoon into sterilized jars and seal.

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