Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Seasonal Recipe: Shallot Marmalade

Shallots waiting to be transformed into something magical

I had the first rummage through my stored shallots recently and found some had started to sprout or were on the verge of going soft. Quick action was needed to save this part of my crop.

I separated out the suspect shallots, plus the teeny tiny ones which are always fiddly to deal with and found I had half a kilo to play with. Onion jam or marmalade is quite trendy, so I decided to have a go at making the equivalent using my shallots.

I've kept the ingredients list quite simple, using some oil for the initial softening, sugar for the middle cameralisation, then balsamic vinegar for the final preservation. A little water is needed at the final stage to give the flavours enough time to combine together nicely.

I struck lucky with my chosen ingredients and amounts, thank goodness. I'm confident it'll work just as well with onions, though I'd probably add a touch more sugar to the recipe as shallots are quite sweet in the first place.

NAH's verdict: Cor, that's really good!

The finished shallot marmalade... or is it jam?


  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 500g shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (I used golden granulated - use what you have to hand, though I don't think any of the stronger flavoured brown sugars would work well)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon = 20ml


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the shallots
  2. Continue to heat the pan gently and stir the shallots with a wooden spoon until they are softened and look transparent - around 10-15 minutes
  3. Add the sugar to the pan, and continue to stir the shallots until they are caramelised and brown - about another 5 minutes
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and reduce the mixture down over the heat, until it is thick and gorgeously sticky - about another 5 minutes
  5. Spoon the mixture into a pre-warmed jar with a lid that won't be affected by the vinegar. Screw or tighten the lid on firmly and allow the jar to cool
  6. Store in a dark place, or in the fridge when opened. Eat within a month, and within 2-3 days after opening
Makes 1 jar. Serve as an accompaniment to cold meats, cheese, pate; or in a steak sandwich

Update: there's a lot more information about shallots and oodles of recipes on the UK shallots website.


  1. Mmmmmm - that is tickling my taste buds VP. Which variety did you grow? I've had my best ever harvest of shallots this year. I do hope that mine have not started to sprout and must have a peek. I keep them in the back bedroom where we rarely turn the radiator. They usually come through ok until after I've got the next lot planted.

    1. They're a mix of 'Longnor' and 'Red Gourmet' I saved from last year's crop, Anna. I was a little tardy in harvesting them, which is probably why some of them started to sprout. I've also noticed that grown from saved sets isn't quite as reliable as using fresh.

  2. Yum! That looks so tasty. Imagine that with cheese on toast on a freezing cold day. Would cheer up winter no end. Thanks for the recipe. I'll give it a go and let you know how I get on. All the best- Karen x

    1. That's a great idea Karen, real comfort food :)

  3. Looks great, I must try it! Ryan will love it, and we've got a good crop of shallots this year. Mind you, if it is as good as you say it is, then I will be berated for not giving them space in this year's garden! ;)

    1. Oh do let me know how you and Ryan get on Emma :) There's always onions to try instead if you don't want to use your shallots. It is very good indeed... and I'm someone who originally dismissed savory jams and marmalades as pretentious nonsense! In this instance it was a good solution to my problem and I'm now a convert.


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