CanningCraft Creates: Caramelized Onion-Maple Jam


Allison Carroll Duffy

Allison Carroll Duffy

Oh, I think I have found a new favorite condiment!

Loaded with caramelized onions, and sweetened with maple syrup and apple cider, this soft-set jam is rich, earthy, and complex. It has quickly become my go-to jam for dressing up a cheese plate, and it’s delicious alongside roast turkey or roast pork, so it’s perfect for the holiday season.

This jam doesn’t contain many ingredients, so quality is key. Be sure to use 100 percent real maple syrup, and use fresh apple cider if you can get it. Apple juice will do in a pinch, but cider is better, as it’s sweeter, richer, and has a more complex flavor.

The other key to success with this recipe is technique — which is not something I say about very many recipes. The deliciousness of this jam is due largely to the successful caramelization of the onions, as well as the concentration of flavors by cooking down the jam to reduce the liquid content. Neither of these things are difficult to do (so in case you are worried, please don’t be!), but a little attention to detail will go a long way, especially in step 3.

Most of us are used to caramelizing onions in fat such as butter or oil, but this recipe, as it is designed to be a can-able recipe, calls for caramelizing the onions without any fat, so the process is a little bit different.

crackers, cheese, onion jamCaramelized Onion-Maple Jam

Yield: 4 to 5 cups

Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

Caramelized Onion-Maple Jam Ingredients

2 pounds onions (6 cups sliced)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups apple cider
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons calcium water
1 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder

Caramelized Onion-Maple Jam Directions

1. Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.

2. Peel the onions and discard the skins. Slice the onions very thinly, and then cut the thin slices into approximately one-inch lengths. Place sliced onions in a sauce pan – ideally, a heavy-bottomed one that conducts heat evenly. Add the salt, then mix.

sliced and cut onions

Sliced and Cut Onions

3. Put the pan on the stove, cover the pan with a lid, and cook the onions over medium to medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, occasionally lift the lid and give the onions a quick stir to be sure that they are not starting to burn. If they are, reduce the heat slightly, replace the lid as quickly as possible, and keep cooking. If the onions are really sticking, you may add a very tiny bit of the apple cider to ease the sticking, but only do this if it’s really necessary.

After 5 minutes or so, the onions should have caramelized a good bit, and should begin to have a nice golden-brown color. If not, cook the onions for a little bit longer, with the lid still on, to achieve this. At this point, when the onions have really started to brown, they’ll probably want to start sticking. So, remove the lid, reduce the heat if necessary, and stir constantly, scraping off and incorporating the brown bits on the bottom of the pot as necessary for a couple more minutes. This will allow the onions to continue to brown and caramelize while preventing burning.

caramelized onion in pan

Caramelized Onion in the Pan

4. After the onions are caramelized and well-browned, add the apple cider, the vinegar, and the pepper to the onions. Increase the heat and bring the mixture up to a boil. Cook the mixture at a low boil for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently, to allow the liquid to reduce in volume.

5. Remove the pan from the heat, then measure the mixture. (A large-capacity, heat-tolerant measuring container works well for this, as it allows you to transfer the mixture from the pan directly into the measuring container). If the quantity of the mixture is more than 4 cups, place the mixture back in the pan and allow it to continue cooking until you have reduced the quantity to 4 cups, measuring as necessary to confirm quantity. If you find that you have less than 4 cups, add a small, additional amount of apple cider to bring the total quantity of the mixture back up to 4 cups. Transfer the onion mixture back into the sauce pan, add calcium water, and then stir to combine.

6. In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup and pectin powder. Mix well and set aside.

maple syrup and Pomona's pectin powder

7. Bring the onion mixture to full boil over high heat. Add the maple syrup-pectin mixture, and then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Return the jam to a boil, and then remove from heat.

8. Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with preserves, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to “fingertip tight” (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).

9. Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)

10. Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then remove jars from canner.

11. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Then confirm that jars have sealed. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, rinse off outside of jars if necessary, label jars, and store for later use.

jam on spoon in and in jar

Recipe and photos by Allison Carroll Duffy

I use Pomona’s Pectin as a gluten replacer . . .

I just wanted to tell you I love your product! But I’ve never made jam with it. Rather, I use Pomona’s Pectin as a gluten replacer in my homemade gluten-free pie crust — and it’s so good everyone at Thanksgiving raved about my pie. I was looking for a way to reduce use of xanthan gum in gluten-free baking. I tried pysllium husk, chia seeds, and flax seed with poor results. I then decided to try pectin.

Pomona’s Pectin allowed me to greatly reduce the xanthan gum in the recipe to a mere 1/8 teaspoon. I’m hoping with more tweaking I’ll be able to eliminate the xanthan gum in my pie crust altogether.

Pomona’s has worked so well in my pie crust, I’m going to try it in other gluten-free baked goods.

I found not all pectin is created equal. Yesterday I made a batch of pie crust using Sure Jell (the only brand at that particular grocery store). While the crust is delicious, the dough cracked and tore as I rolled it out. I’ve never had that problem with my Pomona’s Pectin crust.

Cate Gallagher
Rutherford, CA
December 7, 2016

Short story is that my blackberry jam turned out PERFECT!

Not to bore you, but I had a bumper crop from a maturing blackberry planting. After giving away many gallons, I thought I would see if I could make blackberry jam for the very first time in my life. Being a beekeeper, I wanted to use minimum sweetener and honey of course. I did some research and found good reports on your product.

This morning I took a deep breath and followed the instructions that come with Pomona’s Universal Pectin. Short story is that my blackberry jam turned out PERFECT! I was so happy. You deserve a pat on the back. Great product. Thank you.

Jerry Hayes
Gray Summit, Missouri
November 12, 2016

My next try I’m going to cut out even more sugar.

I am so happy I found your pectin! I love homemade blackberry jam. But I hated that the standard pectins – even the low sugar ones – require so much sugar to fruit.

I’ve looked several times on the internet for information on using less sugar, and finally I found an article about your pectin. I bought some from Amazon over the summer. And just yesterday I defrosted a couple packs of berries and tried a 10 cups berries to 3 1/2 cups sugar ratio.

It jelled up better than my last attempts with Sure Jell, which came out runny. And even with less sugar it was perfectly sweet. My next try I’m going to cut out even more sugar. I really am so happy to find this!

Karen Mathis
Rio Oso, CA
November 1, 2016

The Jam (S)Pot: Adventure Jamming! Jammin’ with Marguerite

Seared Scallops with Blueberry Thai Basil Preserves

Seared Scallops with Blueberry Thai Basil Preserves

“I never would have thought a simple gift-giving idea would turn out to be such an amazing adventure,” says Marguerite Riker of Jammin’ with Marguerite in Holland, Michigan.

“My jam and jelly making started as an idea to give gifts for Christmas in 2011. I wanted to offer something special for my family and friends. After making traditional jams, I thought it would be fun to add a twist to recipes and add a bit of savory herb or citrus zest.” So she did.

“Now my niche is savory jams and jellies, and I love using herbs in as many as possible. It didn’t happen at first, but now I can just think of a combination and literally taste it in my head!”

Marguerite got so much encouragement from the jam eaters in her life, and believed so strongly in her jam-making vision and love of sharing her creations, that she was emboldened, even in a difficult economic time, to make a career transition to full-time jam-making businesswoman.

Marguerite making jam

“Now I have customers who order my jams and jellies to send to their families and friends as gifts,” she says. Visit her website, Jammin’ with Marguerite, to see the wide variety of her selections or to purchase some of her delicious low-sugar concoctions. If you live in Michigan, you can also learn on her website about where you can buy her jams and jellies around Holland and Detroit.

As part of Marguerite’s passion for jam making and love of sharing, she has contributed one of her most favorite and very popular blueberry recipes for us to share with you: Blueberry Vanilla Lavender Preserves.

Read more about Marguerite’s business and her advice for starting one of your own here.

The Jam (S)Pot: Jammin’ with Marguerite — Building a Successful Jam-Making Business

Marguerite selling her jam at the farmer's market.

Sampling and selling jam at the farmer’s market.

“Jam making is a lost art that has become my passion,” says Marguerite Riker of Jammin’ with Marguerite.

“All recipes are mine or handed down from my great grandmother. What makes my product stand out is that I’m the only one who has a hand in what goes into each batch and the preparation. Since I use the finest ingredients, very little sugar, and no preservatives, my jams are a natural accompaniment to everything from a simple breakfast bread to your favorite seafood or savory entree.”

“It’s been a little over three years since I started my business and I’ve had so much fun developing new and unique flavors. I’ve enjoyed the experience and take pride in being able to pick most of the fruit used in every batch of my gourmet jams and jellies.”

Some of Marguerite's jars of jam

Some of Marguerite’s jars of jam

“As my business continues to grow I will have to hire additional people to help. For right now I do everything solely by myself starting with picking and or purchasing the fruit from local farms or buying from local farmer’s markets to making my product. This way I can be in control of every ingredient that goes into each batch making sure that nothing is compromised. All of the herbs and heirloom tomatoes used are from my own 7.5 acre farm in Holland, Michigan.”

Marguerite started out using regular pectin, but then learned about Pomona’s Pectin at her local health food store. She says, “Now I wouldn’t use anything else and I recommend your product to many other men and women who have my passion. Pomona’s Pectin is one of the main reasons that my products have a perfect set, perfect sweetness, and vivid color.”

If you’re thinking of starting a jam-making business yourself, Marguerite has some helpful words of wisdom to share with you: “My advice is don’t compromise on product, don’t give up, write down every recipe, every time you make it, and make sure you don’t leave anything out when jotting down what you used each time. Label and date each jar so that you know which recipe you used. When a recipe is obsolete, remove it from your recipe file; it will just confuse you.”

Marguerite's Spicy Chipotle Drizzle over salmon

Marguerite’s Spicy Chipotle Drizzle over salmon

Marguerite looks forward to what the future will bring for her jammin’ business. She says, “Being able to share what I have made from the heart and watch people enjoy it is such a great feeling.”

An on that note, Marguerite shared with us one of her most favorite and very popular blueberry recipes: Blueberry Vanilla Lavender Preserves.

Read more about Marguerite’s passion for jam making and how that passion developed here.

Mixed Fruit Jams – Combining Fruits Without a Recipe

You can make a jam that is a mix of different fruits by referring to the basic recipes on the recipe sheet that comes with the pectin or to the instructions on the Get Creative page on this website, and then doing the math. You will use the amounts of lemon or lime juice (if called for), calcium water, and pectin appropriate for each cup of mashed fruit you will be jamming.

For example, if you want to make a combination Peach-Raspberry Jam using 3 cups of mashed peach and 1 cup of mashed raspberry, this is how you would figure out the additional ingredients for a safe recipe that will jell.

Lemon Juice: 1 Tablespoon is required for each cup of mashed peach (3 Tablespoons for 3 cups), while no lemon juice is required for the cup of mashed raspberry, for a total of 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice.

Calcium Water: 1 teaspoon is required for each cup of mashed peach (3 teaspoons for 3 cups), while ½ teaspoon is required for the cup of mashed raspberry, for a total of 3½ teaspoons of calcium water.

Pomona’s Pectin: ¾ teaspoon is required for each cup of mashed peach (2¼ teaspoons for 3 cups), while ½ teaspoon is required for the cup of mashed raspberry, for a total of 2¾ teaspoons of pectin.

The sugar and honey ranges always remain the same for 4 cups of mashed fruit: ½ cup up to 1 cup honey or ¾ cup up to 2 cups sugar.

Besides Peach-Raspberry, you might also want to play with combining 3 or 4 different types of berries for a Mixed Berry Jam, or blackberries and nectarines for a delicious combination.

As long as you do your math correctly, you should have no problem with jelling.

We’d love to hear about combinations you’ve tried that you like.

Small Jars of Jam and box of Pomona's Pectin

Jam-Making Success! Photo by Linda Bailey


We have been using Pomona’s Pectin for years . . .

Our small bakery cafe in rural Alaska features as many products from our family farm as possible. In cooperation with my husband’s vegetable operation (Talkeetna Grown at Birch Creek Ranch), we make jams, jellies, and other canned and fermented vegetables for sale to farm stand customers as well as for use in the bakery.

We have been using Pomona’s Pectin for years and truly find it to the be the best product out there – not just for using less sugar, but for really showing off the amazing flavors of our Alaska grown fruits such as red currants, black currants, rhubarb, raspberries, strawberries and apples. Thank you!

Anita Golton, Owner
Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe
Talkeetna, Alaska
October 4, 2016

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