Bottling It Up

Building up a reserve of this sweet spiced pickling mix.

Summer always seems to be bottling time here at the Convent and this year is no different.

Pots of pure gold – caramelised onion jam

One of my favourites is Onion Jam – a simple recipe but packs lots of flavour and treated as a little pot of gold, given two kilos of onions only makes four small jars. I first made this with home-grown onions as I couldn’t bear just to eat the onions after they took so long to grow. Now I make a big batch, I just buy the onions but still love the result.

Pickling vinegar in production – best left to cool and absorb flavours overnight

Another popular standard is this spicy fresh vegetable pickle vinegar by Tom Kerridge, which makes a nice change from pickles or salad. You just place your vegetables in it 60 – 90 minutes before serving for a fresh tasty pickle. Particularly good with a barbecue, steak, pulled pork, corned beef  – well, just about anything. Also a good way to use onions, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, capsicum… Well worth a try. Just keep a bottle or two in the fridge for when the mood captures you.

This variegated elder is only just over a year old, growing like crazy and already bearing fruit.

This year, with the Elderflowers making their presence felt in the garden, I think I’ll try some recipes. This one has caught my attention – Elderflower Champagne. This year I have two Elderflowers – the original standard and a newer variegated one that is going crazy and already has berries. I think this recipe may be a good start at experimenting with these plants.

I also have a healthy batch of Sorrel that I’ve never used so will start investigating recipes for this as well.

This Elderberry is close on three years old – always has lots of flowers, but not so many berries


Onion Marmalade


IMG_1953Onions take quite a long time to grow, I’ve found. They look architectural in the veg bed – someone described them as like giant chives. My brown onions have been disappointing – just brown stumps at the end of their stalk. However the white onions have been a delight. Big juicy round bulbs. It seemed a pity just to use them in various dishes, so I thought they deserved a longer life by making Onion Marmalade with them.

This is a simple recipe based on 2:2:1 with only four ingredients but has produced a wonderful rich caramelised jam.


  • 1 kg sliced onions (I used white)
  • 1 kg white sugar
  • 500 ml white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt (less if you use table salt)
  • Combine sugar, vinegar and salt in a heavy based large pan and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Bring to the boil and add onions. Bring back to the boil.
  • Reduce and simmer, stirring occasionally until jam thickens and goes a rich golden caramel. This may take 3 – 5 hours.
  • Skim off any scum and allow to sit for 15 – 30 minutes.
  • Place in clean sterilised jars and seal. Store in cupboard. I made 6 small jars.