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Onion Relish… Just for DAD (…happy birthday old fella!)

15 Jan

onion relishHappy New Year everyone and all the best for 2013.  I hope you had a great Christmas and enjoyed making my mince pies – if you did so!?

For Christmas this year I made a range of relishes, chutneys and pickled a few things just for Dad, as these really are his favourite thing (I think I have been watching the Sound of Music too much!).  To say he loved my chutneys/relishes would be an understatement (… not blowing my own trumpet here) as he ate it (naughtily) at all times of the day.  Needless to say he was constantly reprimanded by my mother for doing so – ‘it’s supposed to be a treat!’

So this week it is his birthday and I thought he would love nothing more than the recipe, so that he can make it for himself over and over again.  He has all the jars he needs (recycled from me), so HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD and enjoy my yummy, scrummy onion relish!


  • 6 red onions
  • 200g dark brown muscavado sugar
  • 166ml cider vinegar
  • 45g balsamic vinegar
  • 3g salt
  • sprinkle of black pepper
  • 2 tsp thyme (optional)


First you need to chop all your red onions up.  It is best to do this by peeling them, cutting them in half and then cutting the slices, so you get half moons of onions.  This will make sure your onion relish has lots of lovely strands of tasty onions.  Make sure you chop them quite thin… each slice wants to be about 3-4mm.

Now all the onions can go in the pan.  You will need quite a large pan to fit all the onions in!  Turn the heat on, but only on a low heat.  You want to sweat the onions down, which means allowing them to go soft.  You don’t want them golden, nor do you want them burning – as this will give the relish a horrid bitter taste.  So ensure you keep the onions moving and that you don’t get bored and whack the heat up to high!

The sweating down of the onions should take about 30 minutes (I know that’s a long time!) but I promise it is worth it.  You will have noticed that the volume of onions in the pan has reduced by about 2 thirds.  This is right.  Don’t worry.

It’s now time to add the sugar.  Pop in this in with the onions and continue to stir the onions and sugar.  You want to caramelise the onions in the sugar now, to increase the flavour, so you can turn the heat up just a little.  Keep stirring, don’t allow to burn.  Has the sugar dissolved and coated all the onions?  Excellent, we are ready to add all the other ingredients.

So, in no order you can add the vinegars, salt, pepper and thyme (if you are using).  Keep stirring so that everything is thoroughly mixed. Your relish will now look nothing like relish and more like some weird onion soup with a very pungent (potentially eye watering) aroma.  This is just what you want!  Now let the liquid evaporate off (also known as reducing) the relish for about 5 – 10 minutes and then start stirring again.  You will notice that your relish looks sticky and gooey and thick.  PERFECT!  Turn the heat off and get your jar ready.  If you have not sterilised it – follow the notes below, otherwise pour/spoon your relish into the jam jar, use an oven glove to pop the lid on and taaa daa!  Your delicious onion relish is made.




Decorate your jars as so, and you can give them as presents! Gorgeous.


Have you sterilised your jar?

It is really easy to sterilise a jar.  Wash it thoroughly, rinse it, let it dry.  Turn the oven on.  On a baking tray place the jar and the lid and put in the oven at about 150 degrees for about 10 – 15 minutes.  Be really careful and wear oven gloves when handling the jar – it will be extremely hot!