Sweet, sticky caramelised onions in a jar. Unlike regular caramelised onions, where onions are cooked with oil and/or butter (which are both ingredients that are not safe for food preserving), this recipe uses brown sugar to draw out the natural moisture from the onions as they cook. Flavoured with red wine, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper they become rich and full of flavour! Add caramelised red onion relish to burgers or pizza, serve alongside grilled meat and gourmet sausages, or spoon atop cheese and crackers.
Yield: 4 cups
  (1 Litre / 1 Quart)
Yield: 18 cups
    (4.5 Litres / 9 Pints)
Onions, Red, Thinly Sliced
8 cups
36 cups
Sugar, Brown
1/2 cup
2 1/4 cups
Red Wine i.e. Shiraz or Pinot Noir
2 cups
9 cups
Balsamic Vinegar (5% Acidity)
1/3 cup
1 1/2 cups
Salt, Finely Ground
1 teaspoon
Black Pepper, Finely Ground
1 teaspoon
1.  Clean jars and equipment by washing in hot soapy water and rinsing well before use.

2.  Prepare jars (if they require pre-heating, i.e. twist top jars) in a pot lined with a cloth. Cover jars with water and bring to a boil, boiling for 10 minutes. Once the time is up, turn the heat off and leave jars in the hot water until ready to fill. 
3.  Peel onions, discard skins. Cut in half then thinly slice (or use a mandolin). Place sliced onions into a large, deep pan with the brown sugar. Stir to combine. Cook on low to medium heat, for approximately 20 minutes, as they release their juices and caramelise.

4.  Place lids into a heatproof bowl and cover the lids with boiling water. Remove the  lids from the water when you are ready to place them onto the jars to seal.  
5.  Stir the red wine and balsamic vinegar into the onions. Bring to a boil and then simmer for a further 10-15 minutes until the liquid has mostly evaporated, concentrating the flavour of the relish. Season with salt and pepper at the end (to taste). 
6.  Remove jars from hot water and place onto a heatproof surface i.e. tea towel.
7.  Fill jars with hot caramelised red onion relish, filling to 1cm (1/2 inch) from the rim of each jar. 
TIP: use a jar funnel to fill jars.
8.  Using a non-metal utensil, remove any bubbles and add more relish if required to correct the headspace if it dropped below 1cm (1/2 inch) from the jar rim.
9.  Wipe jar rims with a damp paper towel to remove any food residue.
10.  Remove lids from hot water and seal jars i.e. twist to secure “fingertip tight”.
11.  Process jars in water bath for time as listed on the chart below.
12.  Return jars of caramelised red onion relish into the pot of boiling water and boil for the processing time stated below. Start the timer once the water comes back to a full boil.
13.  Turn off the heat source once the time is up. Remove jars from hot water after 5 more minutes. Cool jars overnight on a heatproof surface i.e. wooden board or towel. Do not adjust lids during this time.
14.  After 12-24 hours: check jars have sealed before labelling and dating clearly.
15.  Store jars of caramelised red onion relish in a cool, dark and dry place (i.e. pantry) for up to 12 months. Jar lids should remain tightly sealed during storage, and not flex up or down when pressed (which indicates jar seal failure, do not consume).
TIP: wait 4-6 weeks before opening vinegar preserves, to allow the vinegar flavour to subside.
16.  Refrigerate jars upon opening and consume contents within 2 weeks.
o   Do not add any oil or butter to this recipe;
o   Add dried chilli flakes if you like;
o   Substitute balsamic vinegar for another vinegar (if they are minimum 5% acidity);
o   Different red wine varieties can be used – use one you like the flavour of;
o   A little fresh rosemary or thyme can be added to this recipe (little goes a long way!)
o   The sugar can be reduced in this recipe, however it balances the vinegar flavour and helps to draw out moisture from the onions in the beginning of the recipe, so stir carefully and reduce heat to prevent sticking. You may need to add the wine earlier to prevent it sticking.




Processing Time for   CARAMELISED RED ONION RELISH   in a Boiling Water Canner
Jar Size
1,000 feet
Altitude 1,001 - 3,000 feet
Altitude 3,001
- 6,000 feet
6,000 feet
Hot Pack
1 Litre
10 minutes
15 minutes
20 minutes
25 minutes

Author: Megan Radaich          
Image credit: Megan Radaich          
Learn More: Pickling Guide, available HERE
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