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Canning prob -- veggie is MUSH by the time the syrup is achieved

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Last night I made the Vidalia Onion and Maple Conserve from the BH&G Canning special issue. It was supposed to have been a quick recipe but at 3am (yes, AM) I finally got the brine to evaporate and become a syrup. By that time the onions were mush.

The flavor, however, is FAN-TAS-ti-co! I will *need* to do this again. Just, next time, I want the glistening threads of onion promised in the photo. So I need help to problem solve why all I got was more and MORE liquid as they cooked.

The quick rundowns is:

• sweat thinly sliced onions and salt in olive oll and butter for 5 min on med-high heat
• season, cover, reduce heat, cook 12 more min until very soft
• add maple syrup, bring to boil, reduce heat to med, cook 20 minutes until liquid nearly evaporated (this is the stage that took HOURS -- no exaggeration)
• add vinegar
• pack into jars

The only ways my ingredients and method varied from the recipe were subbing Walla Walla onions for Vidalia, subbing a Sauvignon Blanc vinegar for sherry vinegar and cooking the onions for next to forever to get the thick syrup to which I could add another liquid before packing.

I'm wondering if next time I could salt the raw onions and let them wilt and weep in a strainer before I ever apply heat. Then too, I could ladle or strain off some of the onions own brine before I add the maple syrup -- by the time I'd poured it on and noticed that I was getting more liquid rather than evaporation I was invested in all the maple flavor I wanted to remain in the syrup.

Any suggestions would be MOST appreciated. The flavor of this thing is sooooooooo good it's worth working out.

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  1. Could you remove the onions until the liquid has reduced? I've done this when making beans before that I didn't want to overcook.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LaureltQ

      That's a thought. Thanks for it.

      1. re: LaureltQ

        Bumping this before it gets lost because I *really* need to troubleshoot this and nail it.

        Thanks in advance for help.

      2. I don't understand how it could take so long to cook down on medium heat. You did have the lid off at that point? (Nothing will evaporate with the lid on, but I am sure you know that.) Try with your heat a little higher. I believe you should be able to see bubbles. If that doesn't cook down at all in 20 minutes, remove the onions to a bowl and continue boiling the liquid. .

        1. Does Better Homes & Gardens have a forum or a help line?
          How much liquid were you boiling over medium heat for *hours* ? That just doesn't sound possible!

          1 Reply
          1. re: BangorDin

            Surprised the hell out of me too!

            There was, initially, no added liquid other than the olive oil/butter combo the onions were sweat in. Still, the onions rendered a lot of their own liquid. Later, I added a cup of maple syrup. This is what was supposed to evaporate. But what happened was it drew out additional water from the onions.

            After the 20 minutes the recipe suggested for evaporation, the onions were still under their own juices + the syrup.

            I expected the process to be not unlike caramelizing onions. No resemblance whatever! And I don't know why.

            I don't know what forums BH&G has. I'd like to communicate with the folks who originated the recipe but there's no way I've found to establish any direct communication. I'd just have to register for their site and get whatever generic info I could.

            I'd move along and do something else but the flavor is great. The possibilities are interesting. And the visual of the properly done conserve looks like it has real gift-giving potential.

            Thanks for the help.

          2. I just made this recipe and had the same problem. I now have onion soup! Bummer! I wanted to give it away for Christmas..

            1. Try this site... http://www.choosy-beggars.com/index.p...

              1. First of all, I would reduce the maple syrup BEFORE adding it to the rest. That should solve most of the problem.

                Then--how you cut the onions REALLY matters--something I learned from a French chef on the subject of making onion soup.
                Half the onion from root to stem as you probably always do. Then--the important bit-- make your slices in the same direction--root to stem rather than the cross-wise half moons you are probably most inclined to do. This will keep the pieces much more intact vs. cross cutting which is what leads to mush.