Caramelized Onion-Maple Jam

crackers, cheese, onion jamCaramelized Onion-Maple Jam is a low-sweetener cooked jam made with Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener. See below for where to buy.

This recipe was created by Allison Carroll Duffy for Pomona’s Pectin. She says: “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.”

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.

Recipe and photos by Allison Carroll Duffy

Read Allison’s complete blog post here.

You may also like: Savory Spiced-Mango Conserve, Pear-Cranberry Conserve with Almonds and Crystallized Ginger, or Cranberry-Orange-Pear Holiday Jam.

For more inspiring recipe ideas, see Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin: The Revolutionary Low-Sugar, High-Flavor Method for Crafting and Canning Jams, Jellies, Conserves, and More by Allison Carroll Duffy and the Pomona’s Partners, published by Fair Winds Press, June 2013, and available in paper or ebook everywhere books are sold.

Pomona’s Pectin is available at your local natural food store, food co-op, and many farm stands. Find it also at Sur La Table and a growing number of more conventional grocery stores with natural food sections (Wegmans, Hy-Vee, Rosauers, Nugget Markets, Coborns, Fairway, and others). If you can’t find a store near you on our store locator, you can order from our website or many other online sellers.

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9 thoughts on “Caramelized Onion-Maple Jam

  1. I have made lots of jams (cooked and freezer) using Pomona Pectin and even the jams that call for canning instead of freezing have turned out really well. They
    have a really good consistency and flavor after months in the freezer.
    Have you tried freezing this jam? If you haven’t, do you think freezing would

    • Hello Valerie,

      Thanks so much for reaching out to us here at Pomona’s, and for all the Pomona’s love!

      We have not tried this recipe as a freezer jam, but cannot think of any reason why it wouldn’t work. We would recommend making up the jam as directed in the recipe, and then once the jam in canned and sealed, allow it to come to room temperature before placing it in the freezer.

      If you decide to give it a go, please let us know how it turns out. Happy jamming!

  2. I see instructions to mix the calcium water at the beginning, but then did not see any instructions later for incorporating into the recipe. Am I missing something. What is the calcium water used for?

    • Hello Betsy,

      Thanks for choosing Pomona’s Pectin, we are glad you saw the directions for making the calcium water, as it is a vital part of jamming with Pomona’s.
      This recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of calcium water– see below…
      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

      Happy jamming!

  3. I find this recipe very intriguing. Where would you use it? It isn’t the sort of thing to use on toast or with PB&J. Thinking of making it for family members for Christmas gifts and want to give them some ideas.

    • Hi Sue,
      In her blog post, CanningCraft Creates: Caramelized Onion Maple Jam, Allison says:

      “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.​”​

      I could also imagine putting it on a turkey or other type of sandwich in place of mayonnaise or ketchup.

      And if you haven’t tried jam and cheese yet, as Allison says, it’s an excellent one for that combination.

      I hope this helps.

    • Hi Nancy,
      Yes, all Pomona’s recipes can be doubled. Here is the FAQ from our website about doubling recipes.

      Can I double or triple a Pomona’s cooked recipe? Are there any potential limits or pitfalls when doubling or tripling a recipe?

      Yes, you can double or triple a Pomona’s cooked recipe. Be sure to double or triple all of the ingredients in the recipe.

      Potential Limits and Pitfalls when doubling or tripling a recipe:

      1. You must have a water-bath canner that is large enough to hold ALL of the jars you are filling. It is not safe canning practice to let some of the filled jars sit on the counter while you water bath others. As soon as all the jars are filled and have their lids on, they should ALL go into the boiling water in the canner.

      2. You must have a pot that is large enough to hold all of the fruit in the recipe plus the added ingredients, with enough extra room to stir vigorously while the mixture is boiling and not have the contents spill over.

      3. You must have a stove that is powerful enough to bring the fruit mixture to a full boil and to bring it back to a full boil in a few minutes after you stir in the pectin-sweetener mix. If the fruit mixture with the pectin in it takes too long to return to a full boil, the pectin can be de-activated and you will get runny jam.

      4. You must have a stove that is powerful enough to bring a large water bath canner with all of the filled jars in it back to a rolling boil in a few minutes so as not to de-activate the pectin by extended exposure to heat while waiting for the boil to come back.

      We do not recommend quadrupling a recipe unless you are specifically set up for it!

      Thanks for using Pomona’s Pectin and Happy Jamming!

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