Oniondated!

The task of the poet is often to create the extraordinary from something household and mundane. Perhaps this is the reason the onion has been the focus of so many poems. Pablo Neruda wrote them as crystalline orbs holding magic within their layers. But today the final stanza of a Margaret Clark poem most appeals to me:

Onions
cannot help being metaphors; they would rather stay
mysteries in the moist soil. They would rather I unwrap
myself. If I could, I tell them through the blur, I would.

Worthy of Poetry?

Don’t ask. I’m looking for the poetry in the mundane as I’m screaming “Uncle!” from so many damned onions. First they were green, then yellow, followed by purple and white and now we’re back to green. I cannot imagine what is driving the abundance of allium this season.

Across the blogosphere there are all kinds of kitchens canning and preparing preserves. I’ve perused the onion confit and the pickled onions. While they’re beautiful in your photos, I cannot imagine how long they’d inhabit the shelves of my fridge. I thought about dehydrating some and in fact, I will likely still resort to this but learned earlier this week that some vitamin C can be lost during the air-based drying process because vitamin C is an air-soluble nutrient. When onions are sliced, their cells are cut and the exposed surfaces lose some vitamin C.

Given that I don’t enjoy raw onions and can only bake so many onion pies, I turn to another method of cooking and preservation. I love using a slow cooker for many reasons; it doesn’t heat up my house and it’s ready when I get home. The best thing about using it to caramelize onions is that I’m not tempted to speed up the process.

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Makes approximately 5 cups

  • 20 small to medium white onions (I’m told this doesn’t work as well with sweet onions)
  • 2-3 tablespoons good quality olive oil or butter depending upon your preference.

Neruda’s Luminous Flasks

Peel the onions and cut them into thin slices; you should have at least 6 cups (exact amount is not crucial, though). Mist the inside of the ceramic insert for the slow cooker with olive oil spray or other cooking mist. Place the onions into the crock pot and drizzle olive oil over the slices.

Through the Blur

Turn the crockpot on high, cover and go enjoy your day.  After 10-12 hours you should have a mass of deep brown carmelized onions and a house that smells wonderful. (Check them periodically as their seems to be a vast range of differences in slow cooker temperatures)

Use them up right away in a favorite dish (onion galette with blue cheese?) or freeze them. In our case I am freezing 1/2 cup portions for use later in the year.

Enjoy! They’re Poetic.

Leave a comment

81 Comments

  1. Alice

     /  September 8, 2012

    Wish I had some growing this year. Funny that you have so many–but then we get great recipes ideas. I like all onions in just about any manner.

    Reply
    • Oh I wish I did. I can’t eat them raw unless it’s just a sliver somewhere that I can’t see it. I do like them in soup and savory pies though.

      Reply
  2. What a great idea, Tammy.

    We sometimes make Pushcart Onions and freeze them in small portions to serve over Veggie Dogs and on other sandwiches. We also love Onion Soup.

    http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/new_york_hot_dog_onion_sauce_new_york_onion_sauce/

    But I’ve never thought to use the slow cooker to carmelize large batches.

    Reply
    • I hadn’t heard the term “pushcart onions” but they would work equally well in the slow cooker.

      Reply
  3. Beautifu! I would love to be oniondated! My spouse and I spend a small fortune on onions, so we tried to grow them this year, but they didn’t germinate. Maybe next year . . .

    Reply
  4. Wow! I knew I liked you Tammy…but now my husband considers you his hero (got a big onion fan on my hands…).

    Thanks for sharing! Come and link up to this week’s party when you get a chance…http://inherchucks.com/2012/09/06/whats-in-the-box-42-a-giveaway/. Hope to see you there!

    Reply
  5. Lucy

     /  September 8, 2012

    OK Tammy this is so cool…Never even thought to do this before! Thanks for the tip.

    Reply
  6. imaginefarmer

     /  September 8, 2012

    Sweet post, Tammy …

    Boy, those magenta beauties sure are something to gauk at! What variety are they?

    Reply
  7. You not only gave us a great tip on using up our onions if we are oniondated, but you gave us a poetry prompt too! :) Hope the onion supply slows down for you soon! You are so faithful to use what you get.

    Reply
  8. Promenade Claire

     /  September 9, 2012

    An ode to onions

    Reply
  9. What a great idea to make sure you get to use them all :)

    Reply
  10. Onions are so very versatile. I just love them but no, I don’t like them raw. Every Christmas I make onion marmalade where you caramelise the onions just like you have and it’s a great accompaniment to baked ham xx

    Reply
    • Nancy at Good food matters leaves an interesting way to create a jam in the contents below. Check it out.

      Reply
  11. Jane Ward

     /  September 9, 2012

    I’m into the slow cooker this weekend too, but I never guessed I could caramelize onions this way. Great tip. We’ve had a bounty from the farm. I guess I won’t put the crockpot away just yet.

    Reply
    • I still have a pot going and on this batch, I’m going to have to remove some liquid. They vary but it really is a hands-off easy way to do a big batch.

      Reply
  12. I need to try this. I have onions in the basket on the shelf that need cooking. I should pull out the old deep crock pot and try it. They look heavenly.

    Reply
    • Let me know how it works. The first time I did it, it took much longer than I expected. This time, I had to drain off some liquid through the process.

      Reply
      • I agree about the liquid. I drained quite a bit of it. I cooked it on high for eight hours. I put balsamic in it when I started and it got this lovely intense flavor. I ended up with two one cup containers to put in the freezer. Should make lovely base for soups or stews.

        Reply
  13. yummy. this recipe looks so delish. i admit to hating caramelized onions because they are sort of labor intensive. but this looks easy and awesome. must try.

    Reply
    • That’s exactly right. It takes a long time and therefore, many of us don’t do it well. Give it a go.

      Reply
  14. Love your weaving poetry into a food post. The slow-cooker method is a terrific way to caramelize a batch. If you add just a bit of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme, you can easily transform your caramelized onions into savory-sweet onion jam. delicious with roast beef!

    Reply
    • I am certain that your idea would be a big hit amongst my carnivores. Thanks Nancy. I’ll try it.

      Reply
  15. Brilliant! I am going to do this. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Yeah. Love providing the inspiration.

      Reply
      • I have a post about onions with a super-yummy recipe you might like. I got some cippolinis at the Farmer’s Market yesterday and am going to make it again tonight. The leftover wine reduction sauce is wonderful on all kinds of meat…and weirdly, ice cream. Thanks again. :)

        Reply
  16. Nice recipe…great post! Thanks, Tammy!

    Reply
  17. What a great title to your post, so creative! I have never used a crock-pot to caramelize onions. We buy onions by the bag because we have gotten good at making French onion soup, but when we don’t get around to making the soup, this recipe is just what we need. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  18. I’ve never seen purple onions in the form shown in your photo. They are beautiful! I add onions to so many things – stir fries, roasted with potatoes, broiled with tomatoes, baked with the occasional local free range chicken I purchase. They are so versatile!

    Reply
    • I am trying to find out what variety they are. I call them red spring onions but honestly, I probably made that up.

      Reply
  19. Sally Mom

     /  September 9, 2012

    Great post, Tammy. I adore onions, raw and cooked and use every day. They are remarkable for warding off cold and flu if taken often. Recently returning from an international flight and sleep deprived, I caught a cold. Promptly began the onion soup and homeopathics and felt better in three days. Love all the replys and ideas you received. baked onions and baked stuffed onions lovely in the fall and winter or on the barbecue.
    Nice to find you here this morning.

    Reply
  20. I think this is brilliant. I had never thought of doing a big batch of caramelized onions in the crockpot. I will try this out next weekend and freeze some for pizza nights. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  21. Liz

     /  September 9, 2012

    These look delicious – on my to make list!

    Reply
  22. Lisa H

     /  September 9, 2012

    Caramelized onions are my favorite, along with a really good French onion soup…mmm, I’ll have to make that this week! I would spend hours in front of the hot stove caramelizing onions; however, since I discovered the crock pot, I make a huge batch every year to freeze in small portions. They make a yummy topper to pizza!

    Reply
    • You were the inspiration for me trying this. After a couple of attempts, I’ve got it down and it is just so easy.

      Reply
  23. That’s funny Tammy. I always feel bad complaining about abundance, but it’s true – it can overwhelm. Fortunately onions keep just as they are if they’re dry, dark & cool unlike tomatoes…

    Here’s a preview of my Culture Magazine post – do you recognize anything? Hint: look at the photos : )

    Reply
  24. I so love caramelized onions, and onions with potatoes, and onions on salads and well, onions all the time!

    Good Post!

    Linda

    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

    http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

    Reply
  25. Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said you have a ton of onions! Great idea making these caramelized onions and the preserves… and my favourite pickled onions! My Mom would make pickled onion, tomato and mayo sandwiches when we were kids, totally my favourite thing, ever. Not sure if you are getting tomatoes still, or eat bread, but here are the sandwiches: http://onemessykitchen.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/summer-lunch/

    Reply
    • Your pickled onion post looks amazing. And Nancy from Good Food Matters gave a great suggestion on the onion jam!

      Reply
  26. That’s an awesome idea.

    Reply
  27. Oh onions are so wonderful to plant and to harvest, I just wish that my body could stand eating them, they make me soooo sick. But I have quite a few wonderfully dried yellow onions that I need to find a home, soon…..

    Reply
  28. I chop and freeze on a jelly roll pan, then put in an old ice cream bucket to use over the winter. You are lucky to have this problem–despite two CSAs, I had to go to the store for onions this year. If they come in late, onion galette with blue cheese sounds sooo good!

    Reply
    • Doesn’t that sound good? I haven’t made it but think I will have to in the not too distant future.

      Reply
  29. I can’t imagine having such an onion bounty. I congratulate you on your resourcefulness. Well done.

    Reply
  30. Hahahahahahaha…. I enjoyed your post- this is PURE POETRY.
    I love onions and honestly cant get enough. Would you like to make a masala called “vatan”? It’s very Indian-coastal and chicken tastes great when cooked with this. I’ll email you the recipe :)

    Reply
  31. I envy your bounty. My CSA has been pretty short on onions this year. But if I do get more, I’m definitely trying this, as it sounds amazing!

    Reply
  32. You won my heart simply by mentioned Pablo Neruda. Swoon.

    Reply
  33. Mmm, I would like to try this. We haven’t gotten as many onions this year as we have in years past, but when I do have a lot, I like to make French onion soup.

    Reply
  34. Wonderful stuff, Tammy. I am waxing poetic right now!!!

    Reply
  35. I didn’t know that about vitamin C. Love the slow cooker idea for the overabundance of onions! The cast iron works well, but only for smaller amounts.

    Reply
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