Onion jam is a sweet and tasty jam-like spread made mainly from cooked onions. It is used as a spread to put on many different types of food, including meat, biscuits and bread. The main ingredients usually include onions along with some kind of vinegar, to give it its tanginess, and a form of sugar to add some sweetness. There are quite a few variations, and some recipes may have several ingredients that give the jam a slightly different flavor and make it unique to each chef who makes it.
There are many possibilities for how onion jam can be used. It is butter, like a jam or jelly, and works well as a garnish or sauce for the entrees. It can add an interesting flavor to spicy meat dishes that pulled pork or other fried meat. Many people like to spread it over biscuits or toasted bread slices, like crostinis, and sometimes cream cheese is added, which adds creaminess to the combination. Onion jam can be made in advance and is easily stored, making it a great recipe for putting in glasses, which can be used as gifts during the holidays or for the hostess for a party.
As the name suggests, onions are the first ingredient in onion jam. In some recipes the onion is completely caramelized before adding the other ingredients, but other recipes call for them to be just slightly cooked or to be cooked at the same time with other ingredients. No matter what the cooking details are, each recipe involves cooked onions, enhanced with vinegar and sugar. The type of vinegar used can be any variety, including apple cider, white wine, balsamic vinegar, or red wine. Sugar can be plain white sugar or brown sugar.
Once the main ingredients are in place, the rest of the flavors in the onion jam come from the personal decoration of the chef preparing it. Some common additions are herbs such as thyme, bay leaf, or rosemary. Sometimes mustard seeds or powder are used to add an extra tasty flavor to the mixture. The fresh taste of vinegar is adjusted by changing the type of vinegar used or sometimes by the addition of wine to jam. Another way to adjust the taste is to regulate the sweetness by adding dried fruit or berries, such as cranberries, or using honey in addition to sugar.
- Onion jam can be sweetened with dried fruit.
- Thyme is a common addition to onion jam.