Sep 8, 2011

Confettura di Cipolle recipe

Pairing sweet and piquant preserves with foie gras sandwiches, terrines, roast pork, wild game and (mostly) cheese is my thing. Caramelised onion marmalade being my favorite.

It was a huge hit with my American family visiting Italy a few weeks back, and when it happened to complement a mixed platter of artisan cheeses at an Abruzzo inn, the jar of onion jam was scraped clean.

It's a tangy chutney-like preparation, in fact many Italians refer to it as "mostarda di cipolle," a common moniker for sweet and spicy fruit or vegetable relishes. It's an available item in most Italian delis, but I prefer making mine at home.

This particular one is good with goat's milk cheeses, aged and smelly ones, or a humble chunk of Parmigiano. It tends to overpower the cheese flavor, so should be slathered with measure.

2 kg (4.4 lb) red onions
400 g (14 oz) organic brown sugar
500 ml (2 cups) balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. mustard powder

Sterilize the designated mason jars (+6 medium capacity) by boiling them in plenty unsalted water for 10 minutes.

Trim away papery outer shells and peel the onions clean. Thinly slice them while holding a chunk of bread in your mouth to prevent tears.

Wilt the onions with 2 tablespoons of water in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat. Gently simmer until they become translucent, then add sugar and caramelize them slightly. Stir in the vinegar and mustard powder, cover and keep at a gentle simmer until the jam thickens (about 40 min to an hour).

To test for doneness, pour a drop of jam on a cold plate, if it slides off and is still quite runny, keep cooking until the drop sticks to the plate. Careful not to scorch it, though. Where there is sugar boiling, there is always that one split second of distraction that can cause the whole thing to burn and stick horribly to the bottom of the pan.

Divide the marmalade while still hot into the individual sterilized jars and quickly close with new caps. Turn jars upside down and cover them huddled together under a warm fleece or a woollen blanket. This assures vacuum and pasteurization. For safety, after a few hours, check that the vacuum valve is depressed on the lids. If the valve snaps, boil the jam jars in boiling water for 10 minutes.

When completely cooled down, store in a cool, dark place. Shelf life is about 6 months. Once opened, store in the refrigerator, and consume within the week.


  1. Sounds so tasty,if I can have a go at this soon I will.

  2. This sounds like a great idea not only for eating but for gift-giving too.

  3. nice...i second that...will def give a try as it sounds delish...

  4. amo la combinazione formaggio e questo tipo di amrmellate / chutneys! grazie per la ricetta

  5. buonissima soprattutto con i formaggi!!!! ciao Ely

  6. I LOVE onions like this - I always get the "mousse di cipolla" or "onion chutney" wherever I go (England is usually my best bet) and slowly eat it with cheese - blue cheese is my fav.

  7. Angela Bell~
    Great! I hope you do. Let me know how it turns out, ok?

    It's an EXCELLENT gift, especially for the holiday season :)

    Glad to hear that! Ciao friend.

    Grazie a te per la visita! Anche io amo quella combinazione...

    Thanks, it needed a little cleaning up :)

    Davvero! Grazie.

    MMmmmmm blue cheese! Roscioli has a fabulous one, now that you mention it. When are you coming to Roma? We still need to skype. Soon, I promise.

  8. assolutamente ricetta molto interessante, deve essere perfetta con i formaggi.e che dire del tirmisù qui sotto?!complimenti per le foto

  9. Lucy~
    Grazie! Si, con i formaggi è il massimo, ma anche con foie gras, e alcuni arrosti, cacciagione... Sono contenta ti piacciano le foto :)

  10. Not that it would ever last 6 months but I thought that preserved foods would last much longer than that.

  11. "that one split second of distraction that can cause the whole thing to burn and stick horribly to the bottom of the pan"
    - boy do I recognise this one! last week, i burned the bum out of a (borrowed) pan by that split second.

    I am a great lover of chutney-making, also jam-making, it's my summer hobby.
    Will definitely try this one, and give as presents.Love the pictures too.

  12. LoriE~
    As with any homemade jam with no preservatives, I always give it a shorter shelf life. How are you? :)

    Uh oh... borrowed? Yikes. Let me know how this one turns out for you, ok? Hugs

  13. Nice post and good picture.Delicious chutney.

  14. Roger-
    Thank you for visiting and for the kind kudos. Coming from such a wondrous photographer... I'm blushing!
    Thanks again for your kind reply to my request. I understand!!