Red Onion Marmalade

As recipes go, this one falls nicely at the at the intersection of ‘simple’ and ‘time consuming’. If a recipe is incredibly simple and takes all of five minutes, it’s probably not even a recipe and even a monkey could do it. On the other hand, if it is excruciatingly complicated and takes takes all day plus leaving it overnight to rest, are you even going to bother? That’s the sort of thing a restaurant is for, to do all that hard work for you.

I wish I could say that I made this recipe up all in my own head, but do I really strike you as the sort of person to actually create a chutney, rather than just find a nice recipe and make a passable attempt at making it? When I first set out to make this, I settled on this recipe, eschewing others which contained large amounts of garlic, chilli, butter, raisins, and various other things which I just could not get on board with.

So, onwards. As I said this takes some time, although it’s not exactly labour-intensive, except for some heavy duty onion chopping. From start to finish you’re looking at a few hours in the making, although I would not recommend standing over a hot stove for every moment of this time. Go sit down and read a book and just pop back to stir every so often. However, if you’re the kind of person who can’t carve out a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon, then this is not the recipe for you. Go buy something in a jar and get on with your busy self.


The last time I made it was early on a morning, before I went to see my friend to celebrate her birthday. I had to get up super early to go to the shop and buy the onions, and then it took me all morning before work to make it, but really it was worthwhile and a far better option than buying her some tat from Tesco that she doesn’t want or need. Also – and this is the best bit – I made extra so that I could keep some for myself. Genius, no? I found that it goes particularly well with Boursin soft cheese, and in a sandwich with some strong cheddar. Or, you know, just eat it off a spoon with wild abandon. I won’t judge you.

Here is the recipe, for people who can’t be bothered clicking over to the other website. This makes about 700g, which is enough for one big jar to give to your friend, and one medium tub to go in the fridge for your own devious purposes.

2 tbsp olive oil / 1kg red onions / 150ml red wine / 3 tbsp white wine vinegar / 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar / 6 tbsp soft brown sugar

1. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan. Add peeled, chopped onions along with a pinch of salt. Cook for around 30 minutes on a low heat, stirring every now and then to make sure the onions don’t catch on the pan. It’s important that you cook them long and slow, as this is when the onions caramelise, which is what gives the resulting marmalade its delicious flavour.

2. Turn up the heat, then add red wine, white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. Bring these to a boil and then reduce the heat, before stirring in the sugar and cooking for another 30 minutes or so on a low heat. You want the liquid to evaporate and absorb into the onions – this is meant to be thick and sticky, not watery.

3. Remove pan from heat, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Pour into a sterilised jar if you are planning on keeping it for a long time, or into an airtight container if you are planning on eating it soon. The original recipe says you must leave it for one month before eating it, but I have most certainly not done that so far and no ill has befallen me, so go for whatever you’re comfortable with. If you are planning on stashing it in the pantry, though, make sure you have sterilised your jar properly, and check for mould when you open it. Nobody likes mouldy preserves.

As much as I feel like a loser sharing a chutney recipe, this stuff is seriously delicious and I advise you go make it – right now.

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