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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Canning Tip and Preserving Onions

The heavy canning season is in full swing here. I've already processed three hampers of tomatoes and have one sitting ready for processing today. However, there are also things like onions, peaches, grapes and apples to preserve so it will be quite busy here for the next couple of months.

I can foods year round so my pressure canner is in use at least weekly except during the heaviest canning season (May to October) when it can be in use as often as three times a day. A good rule to follow is always test your pressure canner before the heaviest canning season and any time you have even the slightest concern over the canner's performance.

Method: To test the pressure canner, follow your manufacturer's recommendation for the amount of water in the canner. Check the gasket, vent and pressure release. Prepare at least three 500 ml (pint) jars by sterilizing then fill with boiling water leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust the two piece caps. Place them in the canner. Place the lid on, bring to a boil then vent as per your manufacturer's recommendation. Place the regulator on the vent and bring to pressure. Process for 15 minutes at 10 lb pressure. Turn off the heat and allow the canner to depressurize. Remove the jars and allow to cool undisturbed. Check for a good seal then label and store.

Note: Since you are testing your canner's performance, do not leave it unattended. You need to observe if the seal (gasket) is failing or if the canner is doing any number of things that is not normal. Any abnormalities should be corrected before using again.

Vacuum Sealed Onions

My rule of thumb for anything I'm preserving is use more than one method. The reason for this is if for some reason the electricity or even freezers failed to the point of spoiling the food, I would have at least two (canned, dried) longer term storage back-ups. I think this is the frugal approach to home preserving. I also follow the rule of using home preserving to make things convenient for my style of cooking. Making my own ready to use convenience foods means that I can still put a nice meal on the table with little effort on the days I don't feel like a lot of prep work.

My husband picked up a 50 lb bag of Spanish onions. A good portion of these will be used during the canning season with another bag stored in the pantry to be used fresh. I keep several pints of chopped onions in the freezer. Not only are these convenient but they are very easy to prepare. A large Spanish onion will yield a bit more than a pint bag for vacuum sealing. I coarsely chop the onions, place it in the vacuum sealer bag, vacuum seal with the FoodSaver then freeze.

Carmelized Onions

Onions will keep for quite sometime when properly stored but I came across a method for canning carmelized onions that I just had to try. We have carmelized onions quite often so the idea of canning them was interesting. I only made six 250 ml jars and will likely use them to blend into mashed potatoes. It was more of a can I do this and novelty recipe.

The end result was a gorgeous and versatile product for the pantry shelf.  I was quite pleased with the results!  The carmelized onions looked rather pretty in the jars as well.

Pickled Onions

Pickled onions have always been one of my favourite pickles so I make a batch each year. It is important to use the small white pearl onions. Sometimes they are labeled as pickling onions. Pickling onions is a two step process involving an overnight soak in salt water so do plan extra time for this.

Pickled Onions
adapted from: Jean Paré, Company's Coming, Preserves, Pickled Onions. Pp. 75

4 c small white pearl onions
boiling water to cover

4 c boiling water
1/2 c coarse pickling or sea salt

1 c granulated sugar
1 c white vinegar
3/4 c water
1 tbsp mixed pickling spice

Wash onions then cover with boiling water in a large bowl. Cover and let stand 4 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and peel. Place into large bowl. Pour salt and boiling water over the onions. Cover and let stand on the counter overnight. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

Prepare the brine by combining the last three ingredients in a saucepan. Place the pickling spice in a tea ball or make a small bag using a double layer of cheesecloth. Put into the mixture and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes. Discard the spice. Add the onions and return to a boil. Fill hot, sterilized jars with onion leaving 1 inch headspace. Ladle the brine over the onions leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims. Adjust the two piece lids. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

Yield: 4 - 250 ml (half pint) jars

22 food lovers commented:

Natalie said...

I guess I should check the archives - your opinions on canning okra verses freezing.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Natalie :) I have very limited experience with okra. The local grocery stores don't carry it. I tried to grow it but was unsuccessful. When I can get okra fresh in the city, I use it up instead of preserving. I did can a couple of jars awhile ago just to see how they would come out but had nothing other than fresh to compare it to. Okra is a natural thickener so the liquid does thicken in the jar and because of the processing it wouldn't have the firmer texture of frozen okra so might not be suitable for some dishes.

What I do when I'm not sure if canning is better than freezing or visa versa is to make a small batch of each. Then I compare the work involved, colour, texture and flavour. That gives me an idea of which I prefer. Then the food is processed accordingly always using at least two preserving methods usually canning and freezing. For example, we prefer frozen corn to canned so if I have 12 doz ears, 9 doz will be frozen while 3 doz will be canned.

The choice is also very much dependant on available freezer space too. I'm currently working with a second chest freezer smaller than my old one meaning less freezer space so I will be relying more on canning until I get things organized better.

Let me know how you decide to process the okra and the outcome.

Bill in Oregon said...

What was the verdict on the canned caramelized onions? I'm interested in making a similar product, but am a little nervous as onions are such low acid.

Garden Gnome said...

Bill, onions are low acid and for that reason caramelized onions need to be pressure canned. I will say they are quite good, well worth canning.


Mitchell Webster said...

I am curious, I too love pearl onions, but find them so hard to peel, pouring the boiling water over them I take makes them easier to peel?? Kind of like tomatoes and peaches??

lalyc2000 said...

I ma very interested in trying the carmelized onions. Do you add any water to the jars before you process them? I will be processing in a pressure canner.
I love your blog!

lalyc2000 said...

I'm sorry if this is a duplicate, but my previous comment vanished -

Do you add any water to the jars of caramelized onions?

Garden Gnome said...

Hi lalyc2000! Thanks for visiting and your lovely compliment. No water is added to the caramelized onions before canning. Just fill the jars an process as per directions in the recipe for caramelized onions. I hope you enjoy them :)

Anonymous said...

Just checking to see if you can just use a hot water bath method for canning the onions and also the new potatoes


Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous and thanks for visiting. No you cannot process onions or potatoes using a water bath canner. They are low acid so must be processed using a pressure canner at the appropriate pressure and timing as indicated in the recipe.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Mitchell :) Thanks for visiting. Yes pouring boiling water over the onions helps to peel them easily as well as killing off surface bacteria.

Anonymous said...

I would love to have the recipe for canning carmalized onions. You don't give the processing time or the recipe you used to carmalize the onions. Are you willing to share that with me...Appreciate it! Teresa
Email address is:

T said...

I too would love the recipe for carmelized onions... I have searched high and low for it...

Jessica said...

Hi! For how long you keep the vacuum-freezed onions?

Jessica said...

Hi! for how long do you keep (storage) vacuum-bagged onions?

Anonymous said...

I would LOVE the recipe also for carmelized onions I was thinking adding some hot sauce to make them perfect for hot dogs is ths possable

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was unable to find the recipe for the carmelized onions as well. I looked in the archives but maybe I missed it. I tried canning mine. I did 15lbs of pressure (I'm close to 1200 elevation) for 70 minutes for half pints. I just want to be sure I did the time and pressure correctly. My presto canner manual doesn't mention onions in the vegetable section yet I know they may be canned.

Anonymous said...

My sister has a chance to buy onions by the box for 5$ and wants a recipe to can carmelize them. Yours looks yummy! Could you please email the recipe to Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

I also would like the recipe for the caramelized onions. I am new to pressure canning and can't seem to find any recipes for this. Could you either email me the instructions or maybe post it. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Me too... I'd love your recipe. thanks teisha )

Annette said...

Your jars of Caramelized Onions look delicious... could you please e-mail me the recipe and canning process you used, it would be greatly appreciated. My e-mail is: Thanks and Be Blessed! Annette

Nicole Hammond said...

Hi, we too would love to receive the caramelized onions recipe with process and timing. It is hard to find a definite answer for this process on the internet. Many thanks.