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Onion Relish. Sweet.

Extract from Daily Spud's latest rate-my-garden report card:

Potatoes: Disappointing, could do better
Onions: Excellent showing, keep up the good work

It’s not that I want to take sides or anything, but my onions are putting in the kind of show that would make a parent proud, while those low-yield spuds seem to be hanging out with the slackers at the back of the class. Those spuds will be made to stay late and work extra hard, I can assure you, but that’s a post for another day. Today, it’s all about the red winter onions, which have been doing their slow, steady growing thing for about 9 months now and are finally at the kitchen-ready stage.

While the onions were gestating, the fate of at least some of their number was sealed when I discovered Laragh Stuart’s sweet onion relish. It was one of the many tasty things that I picked up at the food market in Bloom last month. I devoured the little container of same in fairly short order, taking only as much time are it required to (a) spoon the relish onto crackers along with some Bluebell Falls goat’s cheese and (b) shove the entire crackery package into my mouth.

The ingredients list on the container of relish was pretty short – red onions, vinegar, sugar, salt and caraway – so I knew that the first task for my own red onions upon graduating from the garden would be a round of post-graduate relish work. And the report-card comments? Based on the research so far, this is what we got:

Homemade onion relish: May not be exactly the Laragh Stuart version, but very nice on goat's cheese all the same

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Sweet Onion Relish

sweet onion relish

As you’ll see, I really didn’t do anything terribly complicated here, just fired all of the ingredients into a pot and let it simmer for about an hour. The vinegar and sugar quantities are based on what is hopefully a happy medium between a couple of different batches that I made, the first of which definitely turned out a lot sweeter than the original and the second, which was considerably less so. The truth, as always, is somewhere in between.

You’ll need:
  • 500g red onions
  • 250ml white vinegar
  • 190g sugar
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
You’ll also need:
  • Jar(s) with approx. 500ml capacity
The Steps:
  • First you’ll need to prepare the jar(s) that you’re going to use for the relish. Turn your oven on to 140C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and sterilise, either by boiling in water for 10 minutes and then drying in the oven or just by keeping the jars in the oven for at least 30 minutes before using. Sterilise lids by dipping in boiling water and allowing to dry thoroughly on a tea towel.
  • Slice the onions thinly.
  • Place the onions, vinegar, sugar, salt and caraway into a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally. The liquid should have reduced considerably and what’s left will be syrup-like.
  • Fill your warm jars to within 3mm of the top with the relish, seal and label. Allow to cool and store in a cool dark cupboard. You could use it straight away but it’s probably better if you forget about it for a few weeks and let it mature a bit.
The Variations:
  • For some reason, I fancy trying this with allspice berries in place of the caraway.
The Results:
  • About 500ml of relish. Just add goat’s cheese.

And now for something completely different (or at least something that is unconnected in any way to onions or the relishing thereof). For any of you loitering about the Kinsale area this weekend, you may be interested to know that I’ll be taking part in a panel discussion on blogging this coming Saturday, the 18th, as part of the Kinsale Arts Week. Rumour has it that I know something about the subject. Fact is I’m going to be watching my Ps & Qs (and probably some other letters as well) around the Sweary Lady, who’s also participating, as are Claire Mulvany and Fiona McCann. Come along and make of us what you will!


  1. zerrin

    Congrats on your onions! They are like your two children; onions and spuds. One makes you happy, other makes you disappointed. You know these always happen in families. And your red onion relish looks gorgeous! I can’t take my eyes from it, this is the first time I’ve seen onion in such a treat. I love the idea of topping this on some goat cheese.

  2. Jenni

    Oh, wow, you are An Expert in your field–how cool to be on a panel. Sounds so grown up and don-ish!

    The onion jam/relish looks lovely, and I can imagine that it did make quite a tasty little crackery package along with the goat cheese. Love it.

    I wonder if you are at all toying with a name change–the Daily Allium? Daily Onion? Daily Bulb? Nah–never happen!

  3. veggiebelly

    What gorgeous color these onins have..yummmmm!

  4. jenn

    Wow…I had no idea you were growing onions too. That’s awesome!!! I’m really loving the color of the relish. Really stands out!! Catching to the eye means It’s good to eat.

  5. OysterCulture

    That just looks so yummy and with goat cheese, the perfect combination. Thank goodness the onions were behaving.

  6. Lori

    You crack me up with your garden relationships. Too funny! That is just beautiful, what color! I bet it is fantastic with the tart goat cheese. I’d go for the allspice berries as well.

  7. Sophie

    MMMMMM,…your sweet onions relish looks quite delicious!

  8. Daily Spud

    zerrin: thank you – it can be a bit like a family out there in the garden & thank goodness that at least some of the veggie kids were behaving themselves!

    Jenni: I don’t think I could go through the trauma of a name change – Daily Allium? Ally Dailyum? I’m not convinced and, unfortunately, The Onion is already taken :D

    veggiebelly: thanks – it looks pretty attractive on the plate :)

    jenn: I’m loving the colour myself!

    OysterCulture: yes, thank goodness for well-behaved onions

    Lori: I’m a sucker for sweet pickles & relishes and this one goes really well with nice, tangy goat’s cheese; I’ll definitely try it with the allspice berries next time ’round…

    Sophie: thanks, I can confirm that it is rather tasty :)

  9. Jenni

    I thought of The Onion when I wrote that one! lol I guess folks might get a wee bit confused and then take your place for satire. Which it most certainly is not!

  10. The Diva on a Diet

    The relish is absolutely gorgeous, Spud! Love it! Such a perfect topper for the goat’s cheese. Yum!

  11. GrilledShane

    That is awesome that you are on a panel about blogging. Good luck! If I was anywhere close, I would come but I think a plane ride would be just a tad costly. :)

    Anyway, your onion relish sounds awesome and your picture is perfect. Yummy! Not to always bring it back to grilled cheese (its what I do best), I wonder how it would taste if you put the onion relish and goat cheese between two pieces of bread and grilled it. Too much? Interesting combination for sure.

  12. Daily Spud

    Jenni: I guess if I wanted to rival The Onion I’d have to become The Potato, though I reckon people might still get confused by that!

    Diva: thanks – the relish is a bit of a looker alright :)

    GrilledShane: I appreciate that it might be just a little excessive for you to get on a plane just to hear me babble on about blogging (I just hope that I will actually be able to babble on and not be completely dumbstruck when it comes down to it!); as for the idea of taking this to the grill, I don’t see why it couldn’t be tried – the cheese and relish was very nice on an oat cracker, so maybe some kind of wholegrain bread or, now that I think of it, maybe a nice sourdough which would bring it’s own bit of tanginess to the party

  13. Tangled Noodle

    The spuds are duds but at least the onions are taking up the slack. Onion relish on goat cheese – me want! I have this inveterate fear of canning: I’m convinced that I will muck up the sterilization process and produce a lovely jar of C. botulinum. So when I make this, it will be consumed forthwith – not such a hardship, considering how absolutely delicious this looks!

    First a briefing with Bord Bía, now on a panel discussion! You’re on your way up!

  14. SippitySup

    Do you have any above the ground veg in that garden of yours? Great relsih BTW. GREG

  15. Daily Spud

    Tangled Noodle: well, on my way somewhere, just not entirely sure where yet! As for your can-o-phobia, fear not and just think ‘yes you can’ :)

    Sippity Sup: ah yes, I do have overground veg too, I just haven’t gotten around to writing about them! There are a few peas (which got a bit crowded out by the spuds), some swiss chard, courgettes that are almost ready to pick and I’m hoping that my french beans will go into production soon too, so it’s not a bad little collection.

  16. aoife mc

    This looks great, will most definitely be trying this! Yum!

  17. Daily Spud

    Hey, Aoife, if you decide to give the relish a whirl, do let me know how you get on

  18. chris thomas

    can i make this recipe with normal white onions?

  19. Daily Spud

    Hi Chris and thanks for dropping by. To be honest, I haven’t tried using regular onions for this, though I don’t see why you shouldn’t give it a try.

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