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!! crockpot Caramelized onions

 
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Easy way to preserve onions packaged in meal size portions and frozen.

8lbs onions, 1 stick butter, crock pot on low overnight
8-lbs.-onions-1-stick-butter.JPG
Cut up the onions!
Cut up the onions!
caramelized-onions.JPG
Caramelized Onions!
Caramelized Onions!
 
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That looks so good. I can't believe I never thought of using a crock pot for caramelized onions! Did you set it to low or hi?
 
gary gregory
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On low.   This batch went about 15 hours.    The smell of the onions cooking is great too!
 
steward
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That. is. beautiful.

This looks so much easier and more energy efficient than sauteing onions every time you want them for a dish.

Recently, I read a curry recipe that started with reducing onions to a caramelized slurry or paste in the oven. The curry sounded amazing, but it also sounded like a lot of work. The crock pot onions would make that far easier, too.
 
Mother Tree
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That's a brilliant idea!

Over the winter I love to cook stuff in my crockpot and bring it into the living room to double up as a heater - my kitchen seems to be a bit of an 'add-on' and the heat never really moves from there to the rest of the house.  I think a batch of caramelised onions might be just the thing to cook up during a cold snap.
 
steward
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NICE.
When I have the patience I use caramelized onions with everything from burgers to potato salad. 
I give it out at Halloween. 
 
Derek Brewer
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Ok, so I tried this and it mostly worked. My crock doesn't get hot enough on low, and the lid kept in too much moisture. The stewed onions still tasted awesome, but they were runny and didn't have the concentrated flavor of the stovetop.
Next time I'm going to try this with my crock on high the lid partially off for part of the cooking time.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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TheLight wrote:
Ok, so I tried this and it mostly worked. My crock doesn't get hot enough on low, and the lid kept in too much moisture. The stewed onions still tasted awesome, but they were runny and didn't have the concentrated flavor of the stovetop.
Next time I'm going to try this with my crock on high the lid partially off for part of the cooking time.



Tried this last night and I had a similar problem: wetter, soupier, less caramelized onions.

I tried to start my crockpot on high, with the lid partially off, just in case this would happen, but after about an hour, since it was just before bed, I put the lid back on and set it on low for 10 hours. After the 10 hours, they were definitely done and tasting great, just not like Gary's pic.

So, I put the lid askew and put the crock on high 4 hours to dry them out a bit. I'm now at about 3 hours in and they're drier and a bit darker, but still not quite like Gary's.



I'm thinking it might take the 6 hours on high with the lid partly off, then the low setting. I'll definitely try this again. It's so much more efficient to chop and cook these all at once!
crockpotonions.jpg
Crockpot Onions!
Crockpot Onions!
 
steward
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I have seen this done before...without the lid.  Keeping the lid on will cause them to steam in their own juices.
 
Ken Peavey
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Jocelyn, you need just a little bit more heat is all.  Take a look at Gary's picture, on the outside the onions are a darker color than the center.  Its the heat that converts the starches into sugars.  Too much heat will turn the sugars into carbon, this is bad.  A little steam will help to soften the onions, but the water will draw off the heat, preventing the caramelizing process.  Once the onions have softened, remove the lid. 

I cooked some up last night to add to my dinner entree-chicken livers with gravy over egg noodles.  Yummy!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Thanks John and Ken. Those additional tips helped. It just seemed weird to leave the lid off while the crockpot was unattended. Later today, I did turn up the heat and leave the lid off and they started to get that nice gooey brown around the edges like Gary's photo shows. (I was too lazy to post another pic.)

Believe it or not, I really do know what caramelized is supposed to look like, truly I do.  Before I cooked the watery version some more, it still tasted pretty good:  it had that yummy caramelized flavor, even if it didn't look it so much.

I'm a bit of a lazy cook, to be honest, so I often run out of patience waiting for my onions to get nice and caramelized. Which is a big reason I wanted to try this out!

Tonight I had onions on my steak, then used some in a pot of split pea soup, and more will go into a roasted squash soup. (I'm cooking ahead for my week.) Some will go in the fridge for sauteed greens this week, and there should still be at least a few batches for the freezer.

Thanks again, guys!
 
John Polk
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Good caramelized onions are sooo good, and have so many uses.  When your stored onions are starting to "loose it", caramelizing saves the day.
Did someone say "Onion soup"?  When's dinner?  Ummh.
 
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Slightly OT -- this is the onion I didn't caramelize this morning (as I was inspired by the post), but it's about the same size as the one I did. That's a standard (not sure if Ball or Kerr) quart jar with dried asian pears in it.  Disclaimer: I didn't grow this onion. Came from our biodynamic CSA.
The onion filled my 12" skillet. I just let it cook slowly down in the butter while I processed some other things for dehydrating -- apples, plums, pears tomatillos and tomatos this year. Got a pint of the caramelized onions and had a little on toast with some plum butter, my friends had a bumper of the blue plums this year, and that was one thing I did with my bucket of them.
small-onion.jpg
One onion is now in the jar!
One onion is now in the jar!
 
pollinator
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You can do whatever you want, but for those who are concerned with their health, what they say for burned meat is actually less important than for burned carbs! I am not a full raw eater, but the least thing I want is burned carbohydrate.

Change of taste, color and consistency = change of chemistry.

I would just melt the onions in butter until translucid, with no change of color.
 
steward
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OK, so the recipe is:

-fill crockpot with sliced onions and fat
-run on high (with the lid on) until onions are translucent
-switch to low and take off the lid, run it overnight on low

Am I right?  I figure you could vary the fat depending on what you have and what you like.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Julia Winter wrote:OK, so the recipe is:

-fill crockpot with sliced onions and fat
-run on high (with the lid on) until onions are translucent
-switch to low and take off the lid, run it overnight on low

Am I right?  I figure you could vary the fat depending on what you have and what you like.


Probably. I think that's what seemed to work for me, though Gary did his batch 15 hours on low.

I have five um, four crock pots (one broke). One crock pot's low is a similar another crock pot's warm. And that hotter crock pot's low is almost the same as another one's high.

So crock pot differences, combined with onion variables, plus humidity involved, etc., I think makes it all a big passel of "it depends!" (Sorry!)
 
steward & bricolagier
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I buy onions by the 50 pound bag, and my usual thing when I get a bag is sort them and pull out all of the onions that won't store well due to skin damage etc, and caramelize them up! We love them over mashed potatoes.

:D
 
author & gardener
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I make a caramelized red onion chutney to can. Now I'm wondering if I could make it in the crockpot. Hmm.
 
pollinator
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Derek Brewer wrote:


That looks so good. I can't believe I never thought of using a crock pot for caramelized onions! Did you set it to low or hi?



This crock pot idea sounds really yummy. I was wondering about *canning* something like this. There is butter in it, so I'd have to make sure the lids is super clean or it might not seal. I have some white onions that I might want to do this to? [They are not long keepers].
I'd can it in jelly jars since it is just Ron & I. Has anyone done that yet? [Our freezer is getting full and there is still deer hunting!]. Also, I'm running low on jars and there are no canning jars or lids to be had in Central WI. I scored a lot of wide mouth lids a week ago but I don't have the corresponding jars.


 
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I’ve canned them too, and used jelly jars because I didnt want to have leftovers after opening a jar.
Ive also canned them with bell peppers and mushrooms. I always use a crockpot.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Julie Bernhardt wrote:I’ve canned them too, and used jelly jars because I didnt want to have leftovers after opening a jar.
Ive also canned them with bell peppers and mushrooms. I always use a crockpot.



Wait. You can put the caramelized onions directly from the crockpot into the jars and seal? no water bath? no pressure cooker? If that is right, I'll be definitely can my caramelized onions that way. Easy peasy! Thanks!
Staff note (Julia Winter) :

Please don't jar up carmelized onions. These are not an acidic food and thus would require pressure canning to be safe. Carmelizing them really reduces their volume, so you'll probably find room in your freezer!

 
pollinator
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"Wait. You can put the caramelized onions directly from the crockpot into the jars and seal? no water bath? no pressure cooker?"

Oh, I don't think so.  I'm surprised they can be canned at all.  I await information from those more knowledgeable!
 
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I do massive cook downs of onions as well but I don't use a crock pot as they are another non existent thing here. it takes about 1 hour on the hob to do about 6lb of onions for me. I then put them into old plastic pots and freeze them, once they are frozen knock them out of the pots and bag up.
 
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Probably the crock pot is non-existing here too (like with Skandi in Denmark). So I don't have one. I never made caramelized onions, I always sauté them (or stir fry).
Maybe I can make caramelized onions in the oven? Can someone explain me how to do that, please?
 
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I used this method using the crockpot back in 2018 when I first found this topic.  I loved them cooked this way.

I am so wanting to do this now as I have a whole batch of onions "saying cook me now as I am going bad". I just keep waiting for cooler weather.  I am really tired of hot. Our temps are still in the 90's to 100's.
 
Julia Winter
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Probably the crock pot is non-existing here too (like with Skandi in Denmark). So I don't have one. I never made caramelized onions, I always sauté them (or stir fry).
Maybe I can make caramelized onions in the oven? Can someone explain me how to do that, please?



I think in the oven, you'd start with a medium hot oven, sliced onions and fat in a casserole dish, with the lid on, until the onions are translucent.  Then turn the heat way down and maybe turn the lid sideways.  (I'm a little nervous that no lid in an oven might dry things out too much.)  Check it every half hour or so, stirring once an hour.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Anne Pratt wrote:"Wait. You can put the caramelized onions directly from the crockpot into the jars and seal? no water bath? no pressure cooker?"

Oh, I don't think so.  I'm surprised they can be canned at all.  I await information from those more knowledgeable!



Thanks, Anne. And thanks Julia Winter for confirming to not try to can directly from the crockpot. I think I'll freeze mine. Yes, they will take a lot less room once they are cooked down/caramelized.
 
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